Vaccinations began today at 24th and Mission streets, and those with an appointment — or even those with questions about getting an appointment — were ecstatic.
“I am so happy and so excited! It’s like, okay let’s get ready!” said Guadalupe Martinez, after getting his first dose. “I’m so tired of this.”
Martinez, a Tenderloin resident who has been out of work for the past few months, has been volunteering and doing outreach and registration with Unidos en Salud, a year-long collaboration between UCSF and the Latino Task Force to run testing and research campaigns for vulnerable populations.
Read about today’s opening
Martinez received a link last week and made an appointment for this morning. His next dose is scheduled for March 1st.
He said he felt no reactions to the Moderna vaccine. If other people can get it and are nervous, they should, he said. “It’s the responsibility of the whole community.”
Although the vaccinations are by appointment only, the coalition understood that not everyone would be able to manage online vaccinations, so they were ready with a table and bilingual volunteers to take questions and help people through the process.
This week is a soft launch, with only 120 vaccinations a day. But, as supplies become more available, the site will ramp up to as many 400 vaccinations a day. The appointments for today were booked over the last week and were meant to focus on healthcare workers and residents over 65, as state guidelines permit.
Yolanda Herrera, an elderly caregiver in the city, waited at the table to see if she qualified for a vaccination. She has not spoken with her own health provider because she thought that only residents 65 years and older qualified for vaccinations. But the banner at the site’s entrance made her stop and ask because the woman she works for is 80 years old. “I need the vaccine to protect her and to protect me,” she said.
John Calloway, who has been volunteering at the Latino Task Force Hub since the beginning of the pandemic, was able to get an appointment for today, but he acknowledged, “this isn’t a license to go running around in society like before. I’ll still take precautions, of course.”
Calloway said the process was quick and “easier” than some testing, and less intimidating than getting a swab up the nose. A volunteer monitors and asks patients questions after they get their shots, when they must wait 15 minutes to see if they develop any adverse reactions. Those who get their shots sit in a tent with masks and distanced during that time. Calloway says he feels fine, except for soreness in the arm, but will watch throughout the day.
He also said, “the walk-up is great, especially for people who don’t have cars.”
The vaccinations will run through Wednesday of this week and then resume on Sunday and run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday. This week, rapid testing will resume at the 24th Street Plaza on Wednesday, but thereafter will run concurrently with the vaccination site: Sunday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Many of those getting vaccinated today have been working at the Latino Task Force hub on Alabama Street, where they are front-facing with vulnerable residents. Others have been volunteering at the testing site where positivity rates have been as high as 14 percent among Latinx residents.
Juan Davila has also been working at the Hub since the spring of 2020. He said he was floored by how kind the volunteers were, checking and asking him if he feels okay, how he’s doing overall, and supplementing him and others with an informational packet at the end of the visit. “I felt like, wow! This is excellent service.”
Davila was a little nervous to get the vaccine, but his friends got it and assuaged his fears. He feels no symptoms, so far. Most of all, he’s pleased this is taking place in the Mission.
“The Mission is like a family, it’s close like this,” Davila said, clasping his hands together. “Already, there’s essential services, covid testing, food boxes. I’m so happy now we can bring vaccines to the community.”
Marisol Guillen, a Mission resident, wanted the vaccine to “protect her three kids and her husband,” she said in Spanish. She was calm beforehand, but feels so happy now that it’s over. “I don’t feel anything,” she said about the symptoms. Her next appointment is March 2.