People line up at the 24th St. Mission BART Station to take the Binax rapid Covid-19 test on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, the first day of the Unidos en Salud's latest testing campaign. Photo by Annika Hom.

Of the more than 4,000 residents surveyed this month as they stood in line waiting for a Covid-19 rapid test at the 24th Street BART Plaza, 86 percent said they are ready to be vaccinated, according to preliminary results from the UCSF and Latino Task Force test and research campaign that will continue through Friday. 

The 86-percent number indicates a “shift in the narrative around vaccines,” said UCSF researcher Dr. Carina Marquez, who delivered the results of the survey on a conference call on Monday morning with the Latino Task Force.

A nationwide survey in December showed that only 71 percent of the respondents said they were likely to get vaccinated. 

Unidos en Salud

Most importantly, the survey, by and large, represents the views of the community in San Francisco that has been hardest hit by Covid-19: Latinx frontline workers, many of whom have no health insurance or primary care provider.

The results also seemed to offer an indication that all of the on-the-ground work that the Latino Task Force and UCSF researchers have been doing on Covid-19 education and testing has, in part, helped to seed a more positive attitude toward the vaccines and a comfort with community sites. 

Unidos en Salud

The UCSF/Latino Task Force alliance, known as Unidos en Salud, would like to see low-barrier sites established, to make the vaccines easily available to those without insurance or a primary health care provider. Of those motivated to get vaccinated, only 58 percent have health insurance, Marquez reported. 

Jon Jacobo, the head of the Latino Task Forces health committee, said in an interview after the meeting that vaccinating frontline workers will be especially important as the city reopens. “They are most at risk,” he said.

Among those surveyed, the Latino Task Force rated higher in trust than the local and state government. 

The Department of Public Health appears ready to embrace a community strategy. In a follow-up presentation, Dr. Naveena Bobba, deputy director of health at the Department of Public Health, said the city will reach those who are uninsured or at risk by offering vaccines through its clinic system, at pop-up hubs and through mobile pop-ups. 

However, when DPH will have enough doses to distribute vaccines to its community partners is unclear. 

The results reflect the answers from 4,436 people who stood in line at the 24th Street BART Plaza for Binax rapid tests, covid tests that deliver results in hours, between Jan. 10 and Jan. 20. That test and research campaign will continue through Jan. 29. 

Of those surveyed so far, 91 percent were under the age of 65, 73 percent were Latinx, 10 percent were white, and 8 percent were Asian. Some 46 percent were frontline workers, 47 were first-generation immigrants. 

The survey showed that those who were vaccine hesitant — defined as those who would not (6 percent) or who would probably not (8 percent) get the vaccine — tended to be younger than 65, women, Black, and non-frontline workers, Marquez reported.

Among the vaccine hesitant, 46 percent worried about the side effects, 28 percent said they don’t trust the safety, 23 percent said the vaccines were too new and 21 percent reported distrusting the health care system.

In addition to the vaccine survey, UCSF and the Latino Task Force have been offering the Binax rapid test five days a week since Jan. 10. As of Sunday night, they had tested 6,906 people. The positivity rates — 10.08 for all testers, and 11.69 for Latinx testers — have been far higher than the citywide rate of about 4.39 percent.

The test results come back in 15 minutes, making it possible for Community Wellness Teams to contact a covid-positive patient on the same day, and often within a couple of hours,  to help with quarantine questions as well as food and financial support. 

When asked if he expected the Binax rapid test to be used elsewhere, Jacobo from the Latino Task Force, said: “We can use them in all areas in the southeast where there have been high levels of infection. … So it would be highly effective if you can couple the resources that are needed to care for those most on the margins.”

Jacobo added: “Testing in our community without resources is meaningless. If you cannot help support those that are most on the margins, the testing is irrelevant.”

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I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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1 Comment

  1. I am 84. I do I make an appointment to get vaccinated in SF. I cannot find how to make an appointment for the vaccine, anywhere or by any entity?

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