OAKLAND — The Oakland Coliseum vaccination hub will remain open past its scheduled closure date next week, but whether it will continue to supply as many vaccines as it does now is unclear.
That’s according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who announced Tuesday that both the Oakland Coliseum site and the Cal State Los Angeles mass-vaccination sites that the set up would remain “operational.”
Uncertainty has roiled the discussion over the site for days, as officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said they would pull out of managing the sites on April 11 and declared that the agency’s “eight-week mission” to vaccinate people at the Coliseum is accomplished.
That prompted concern from local officials, who pleaded with FEMA to stick around just a few weeks longer to ensure a smooth transition of the site into their hands and a direct allocation of the vaccines from the federal government.
Newsom confirmed Tuesday that the state and county would take over managing the site, but FEMA will still pay for it and provide personnel.
The federal government will not continue providing a direct allocation of vaccines, Newsom said, but urged that “there will be no perceptible change, in a meaningful way, to the public.”
The state will provide vaccine supply and work with FEMA and Alameda and Contra Costa counties to operate the site, he said.
The Coliseum hub currently delivers about 6,000 shots per day. Newsom acknowledged the counties and state are still determining how many shots they’ll have available, so it’s unclear if the Coliseum site will continue administering at its current volume.
He promised more information would come later on Tuesday about the supply issue.
Alameda County health officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in the last week have expressed concern about the possibility of not getting enough vaccines when FEMA pulls its supply.
Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson and Colleen Chawla, director of the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, both urged FEMA in separate letters sent Friday to keep the Coliseum site running at its current capacity as the state builds up its vaccine supply.
“While the vaccine third party administrator, Blue Shield, projects an increase in vaccine in the future, meaningful increases in supply are not expected in the coming weeks,” Carson wrote.
The supply for the Coliseum goes not just to those able to make appointments and drive through that site, but also for mobile vaccination clinics that bring the vaccines from the Coliseum to churches.
The mobile units were created in an attempt to distribute vaccines to those in neighborhoods hard hit by the virus and to those who did not have the capacity to navigate the online registration systems.
As of Monday, the vaccine sites at both Cal State Los Angeles and the Oakland Coliseum had given a combined 625,000 vaccines, with nearly 90,000 of those administered through the mobile clinics.
Nearly 68% of the vaccines across both sites were given to “targeted underserved communities and people of color,” according to a press release from the state’s Office of Emergency Services.
The county and state officials running the Coliseum vaccine site will have to make sure equitable distribution continues even as FEMA stops its supply.
Early last month, state officials announced California would dedicate 40% of its COVID-19 vaccine supplies to people at the bottom 25% of the state’s socioeconomic ladder in order to expand access to communities hardest hit by the virus.
The news comes as government officials have also pledged to reopen the state more fully as more people are vaccinated.
If vaccines are widely available and cases remain low, the state could remove most pandemic restrictions this summer.
Check back for updates.
Staff writer Nico Savidge contributed reporting.