Adrian, a 31-year-old barista, couldn’t believe his luck.
Just before 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, he was one of the 10 people waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine appointment at the 24th and Capp street site, which is run by the UCSF and Latino Task Force partnership Unidos en Salud.
“I’m dumb excited,” he said, beaming. “I didn’t expect to get an appointment today.”
And he was lucky. Starting today, San Francisco began vaccinating restaurant and food workers like Adrian. He doubles as a barista at Grand Coffee on Mission Street and a server at the Japanese restaurant Rintaro on 14th Street. Those in the state’s Phase 1B — which includes educators, childcare workers, emergency service providers like cops and firefighters, and restaurant and agricultural workers — are allowed to get inoculated as of Wednesday. That is, if enough shots are available.
Adrian secured a vaccination appointment on Sunday after he got tested at 24th and Mission BART Station where Unidos en Salud volunteers were also registering eligible residents interested in the vaccine.
“Not only did they add my name to the list, but I got an appointment right there,” Adrian recalled. “It was more than I expected.” His second dose is scheduled for March 17, “which I thought was poetic. It was one of the first official days of shelter-in-place.”
On Wednesday, all vaccines at 24th and Capp were accounted for. About 120 first doses and 80 second doses were reserved, said Dr. Diane Havlir, professor of medicine at UCSF and a co-founder of Unidos en Salud. Because interest has been so high at Capp Street, which has less capacity, the city is offering shuttles from Capp Street to San Francisco General Hospital where there is more supply.
In preparation for the new expansion of those who are eligible, Unidos en Salud has rounded up hundreds of Mission residents through door-to-door outreach and called businesses up and down 24th Street to register workers for appointments at the Capp site.
And, residents can visit the site and hop in a separate line to add their name to a wait list which currently has no cut off. That’s how Teresa, a preschool teacher at the private Stratford School in San Francisco, got an appointment for today. She came by the site at 8 a.m. on Sunday and waited an hour and a half to make her appointment.
“I’m super excited,” Teresa, 28, said. Her school has been holding in-person classes since June. “We’re exposed to a lot of kids and germs. You can’t control where your kids or parents go or how safe they’re being. I also have asthma, so it’s crucial that I be safe.”
San Francisco has identified at least 168,000 individuals who live or work in San Francisco under Phase 1B. And the previous vaccination tiers still have to finish. In total, there are about 210,000 healthcare workers and people 65 and older who were in the first tier, according to the mayor’s office.
About 60 percent of San Franciscans 65 and older and 56 percent of those 75 or older received at least one dose, according to the Department of Public Health. About 12 percent of San Franciscans 65 and older and 14 percent of those 75 and older got their second dose.
Even as the city is opening new tiers, it continues to struggle with vaccine supplies. According to the mayor’s office, last week the city administered an average of 4,000 to 4,500 doses a day, which is a rate “lower than what San Francisco is capable of.” Given adequate supply, San Francisco’s network of vaccination sites can eventually administer at least 10,000 vaccines per day.
The shortage has caused mass sites like Moscone Center and City College San Francisco to temporarily shut down. Moscone Center is expected to reopen Thursday, Feb. 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will officially move to a 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule starting Friday, Feb. 26, Covid Command Center said in an email. San Francisco General Hospital also ended its stint of walk-up vaccinations yesterday, Feb. 23., but will remain open for those 65 and up in zip codes 94110, 94112, 94107, 94124, and 94134 on a drop-in basis and by appointment for those within the San Francisco Health Network. City College San Francisco reopened Tuesday, Feb. 23 for second dose appointments only and began operating Wednesday for appointments.
Adam, who works at the Trader Joe’s on Hyde Street, said he has been trying to figure out how to get a dose for at least a week. He went online to CVS Pharmacy to claim one this morning, but realized the site hadn’t yet updated its eligibility to workers like him. Instead, he joined the line of about 50 others on Wednesday to put his name on the waitlist at 24th and Capp streets. He felt he had no choice.
“My store sees at least 10,000 people a week,” he said, “and any number of them could be asymptomatic and spread it.”
Adam said in the past three months, quite a few of his coworkers have tested positive for Covid-19. In one instance, four got sick within three weeks. “And [our store] is doing better than other grocery stores. They have way more outbreaks.”
Another reason Adam wanted the dose as soon as possible was to keep his immunocompromised parents safe. “This is so I can hug my parents again.”
Even without Covid-19 outbreaks, Latina essential workers like Maria, 44, feel it’s necessary to protect herself, her kids, and others. She’s a baker at Ariscault Bakery in the Richmond District and worries about catching it and spreading it to her three children, so she joined the waitlist queue.
“We’re working with tons of people every day,” she said in Spanish. “We need to stay safe.”
Latinx residents and essential workers are most at risk for Covid-19 in San Francisco, according to medical researchers. Although the disparity has been declining in the past few months, Latinx residents still make up 41 percent of the city’s covid cases, despite making up only 15 percent of the population. They are also disproportionately represented in covid deaths — at present, they make up 20 percent.
UCSF researchers found early on that low-income essential workers are particularly vulnerable to contracting Covid-19, because of their inability to shelter-in-place. The Unidos testing and research campaigns that began last April and continue today at the 24th Street BART Plaza, have consistently found a high incidence of Covid-19 among low-income frontline workers earning less than $50,000 a year and without health insurance or a primary provider.
So far the city has performed better in its equity goals with vaccines. “A higher proportion of the DPH-administered vaccinations have gone to people of color than the total citywide vaccinations,” the mayor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
About 31 percent of vaccines have gone to Asians, and they make up 38 percent of total San Francisco Covid-19 deaths. About 30 percent of vaccines went to white residents, who make up 42 percent of the city’s 16 and over population; 3.5 percent of vaccines have gone to Black residents who make up 5 percent of the city’s 16 and over population; and 9 percent of vaccines have gone to Latinx, which make up about 14 percent of the city’s 16 and over population.
As the vaccines continue and supply wavers, the city said that healthcare should prioritize second doses over first doses. That won’t discourage desperate residents at the Capp Street site to try for a first shot. One woman complained she had been waiting for two hours before she got to the front of the waitlist line. “It’s too much,” she said.
“It’s too much, but it’s cool,” said a woman in line next to her. “It’s worth it.”
Find out where you can get vaccinated in San Francisco here.
This story was updated on Feb. 24, at 5:00 p.m. to include information on city vaccination hours which was confirmed by the Covid Command Center.