San Francisco healthcare providers may soon begin administering Covid-19 vaccines to grocery workers, teachers and residents over the age of 75, according to health officials during a Tuesday press conference.
“Most frontline acute care staff at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and at Laguna Honda have been vaccinated,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health. “And, after today, over 90 percent of the residents at Laguna Honda will have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.”
Colfax gave no firm date for when the next phase would begin, or how it would unfold. He did stress that the vaccines will be distributed through healthcare providers such as Kaiser, UCSF and Sutter Health. And, in response to a reporter’s question, he said that the city would “explore” whether large vaccination sites would be faster than what is now in place at different providers.
The city will also get vaccines to administer to those under its care or who have no insurance. He did not elaborate on how the city’s vaccines would be distributed, but he did say they are now working with Walgreens in vaccinating Laguna Honda residents.
Colfax said that the Department of Public Health received 30,000 doses, which it distributed throughout the city. After that shipment, the state began sending doses directly to healthcare providers. He did not have those figures.
Colfax also couldn’t say how many of the city’s 80,000 frontline healthcare workers — the highest priority group in the state’s tiered distribution plan — had been vaccinated because they were vaccinated by their own employers. The city only vaccinated employees at its hospital, Zuckerberg San Francisco General, and Laguna Honda’s 700 or so residents.
UCSF is currently vaccinating up to 1,100 people per day, according to Dr. Joshua Adler, chief clinical officer at UCSF.
Adler added that he hopes the hospital will be able to increase its vaccination rate, and that so far, the supply of vaccines has been able to keep up with the rate at which they administer them.
“At the moment, we are continuing to focus our efforts on vaccinating healthcare workers primarily, and then hope to move onto additional groups in the next few weeks,” Adler said.
Colfax also said those next in line for the vaccine would be determined by the state.
“We are waiting for the state to finalize the next phase, which is proposed to include frontline, essential workers such as public safety, grocery workers, teachers and those over the age of 75,” Colfax said.
According to a report by the New York Times, California has vaccinated more than 450,000 people, about 1.2 percent of the state’s population, more than any other state or territory by vaccine count, but near the bottom of the list based on percentage of the total population. The Northern Mariana Islands, having vaccinated 5.7 percent of their 57,000 residents, is at the top.
Colfax also shared updates on new case rates and ICU capacity.
“We are averaging about 237 new cases of Covid-19 every day” Colfax said, adding that this figure is high, but an improvement from the 290 average new daily cases we saw in mid-December.
In terms of ICU capacity, the Bay Area region currently has only 5.9 percent availability, keeping us under the state’s stay-at-home threshold of 15 percent, according to Colfax. San Francisco is currently faring far better than the region, with a local ICU availability of 35 percent, but Colfax also warned that ICU bed capacity in the city could soon dwindle.
“While we have those ICU beds now in San Francisco, it is possible with our regional and statewide surge, that those numbers of ICU capacity will drop sharply,” Colfax said. “Perhaps due to a worsening of our local situation, or because of needs in the region or the state.”
Four people from outside of San Francisco are currently being treated in city hospitals as a result of nearby counties exceeding hospital capacity, Colfax said, and more could be coming.
“While we have care available, and people need care, it’s the moral and ethical right thing to do to provide that care when asked,” Colfax said.