OAKLAND (CBS SF/BCN) — California senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla said Wednesday they requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency work with local and state governments to keep mass COVID-19 vaccination sites open in Oakland and Los Angeles past their planned April 11 end date.

In a letter to acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton, Feinstein and Padilla asked for the sites at the Oakland Coliseum and California State University Los Angeles to stay open past the deadline, saying they have both been administering more than 7,500 doses per day, bolstering regional capacity.

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Feinstein and Padilla called for FEMA “to provide the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) and the counties of Alameda and Los Angeles with financial and logistical support so they can take over operations, and that the federal government continues to send the sites direct shipments of vaccine doses.”

COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum on March 31, 2021.

COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Oakland Coliseum on March 31, 2021.

With California planning to make all residents 16 and older eligible for the vaccine next month, “we believe this is precisely the time when mass vaccination sites, like the ones in Oakland and Los Angeles, are needed. It would be counterproductive to close them before the vast majority of the population is vaccinated,” the senators wrote.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said now is the time to keep vaccinations at full throttle.

“FEMA and CalOES came into Oakland and promised to help our hardest hit communities, but that mission is not yet accomplished,” the vice mayor told KPIX 5.

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Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents East Oakland says keeping the Coliseum open for locals is important to get herd immunity.

“If we maintain the Coliseum to open, it’s going to reach out to different age groups and certainly we at the neighborhood level would encourage and it would be a lot easier to convince you and others to go get the vaccine,” said Gallo.

This comes as the state of California is ponying up nine million dollars for vaccine equity — money which can be spent on staffing and opening clinics in smaller settings, like San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza. The bill was co-authored by State Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose).

“They need to be comfortable as to the place they’re going. We have found that the Latinx population in my zip code, the zipcode I live in is much more comfortable showing up at Mexican Heritage Plaza than just about everywhere else. Well, if that’s where they like to go, then that’s where we should set up shop,” Cortese told KPIX 5.

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