LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Editors note: The above video is from March 8.
A historic moment for Lancaster County: The Community Vaccination Center opens tomorrow at 8 a.m.
Right now, officials are prepared to administer approximately 500 shots to eligible patients. However, they hope to increase that number soon.
FOX43's Grace Griffaton gives us a look inside the facility and explains the greatest challenge still ahead.
The "pods" are ready, the social distancing markers are placed, and thousands of people are already requesting a vaccine.
"The center really represents hope," said Dr. Michael Ripchinski, Chief Clinical Officer for Lancaster General Health. "It represents hope for us to continue to recover from this pandemic."
"I think it's great. I think it's a great location being that it's close to the highway," said Karen of Manheim Township.
The 100,000 sqft site at Park City Center is ready to accommodate thousands of patients who are eligible to be vaccinated with the exception of one thing.
"The greatest challenge we continue to see is vaccine supply," added Dr. Ripchinski.
"It is vaccine availability," seconded Commissioner Josh Parsons. "We can built it, and we have built it with the community and great partners."
Those "great partners" include all four of the county's major health systems: UPMC, Penn State Health, WellSpan Health, and Lancaster General Health which is the managing partner.
So far, the state has allocated 5,000 doses per week for the center. However, the goal is to receive enough allocation to administer 6,000 shots per day. The center will be open 7 days a week. Broken down, health officials say that's about one shot administered every six seconds.
"We need the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Governor Wolf's Administration to allocate the vaccine because without that, it doesn't work," added Parsons.
FOX43 asked officials if the DOH has indicated when the center could receive the doses necessary to meet their goal.
"I don't think anyone has heard that indication, and that's really what we want," stated Parsons. "We want to know they will support this. This is a better solution than the fragmented rollout that Pennsylvania has seen to date and has frustrated many, many people with having to try to sign up on different lists."
Eligible people can either call 717-588-1020 to sign up for an appointment, or they can register online at VaccinateLancaster.org. Click on “Lancaster Co. Community Vaccination Center” and then click on “Register for a Vaccination Appointment.” To date, officials more than 33,000 people have requested an appointment so far.
“We expect call volumes will be high, and our lines may get overwhelmed quickly,” Ripchinski said. “We ask everyone to please be patient as we work to meet the significant demand for vaccinations. If you cannot get through to a specialist or are unable to register online, please keep trying. We will do our best to accommodate everyone as quickly as possible.”
"Not all 33,000 will get an invitation because invitations are based on the supply we have coming in," explained Dr. Ripchinski. "As we hopefully see increased delivered to the facility, we will be able to send out more invitations at once."
Health officials plan to administer 500 shots on the center's opening day.
By the weekend, they hope to be able to administer 1,000 per day.
Each of the four health systems behind the center will also continue administering shots at their own facilities.
The Community Vaccination Center will have translators on site to help people; there are also wheelchairs and other accessibility features to assist patients.
It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Patients with scheduled appointments are asked to arrive no more than 20 minutes prior to their appointment and to wear loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to the upper arm. Individuals with mobility-assistive devices should feel free to bring them.