If supplies allow, San Francisco will allow educators, emergency service providers like police officers and firefighters, and food and agricultural workers as defined by the state to get the vaccine starting Feb. 24, Mayor London Breed and Director of Public Health Dr. Grant Colfax announced Tuesday.
These designations include people who work regularly with children, such as bus drivers and crossing guards, per the state’s guidelines. Right now, the city is administering about 4,000 doses a day to healthcare workers and people older than 65.
“I’m truly looking forward to that day,” Breed said, acknowledging that the vaccine has been a major bargaining chip that the teachers’ union is asking for in the school reopening drama. “We do understand that there are people who want that assurance.”
Throughout the press conference, Breed and Colfax mentioned this step would start Feb. 26. The Department of Health issued a correction Tweet afterward, stating these are actually available Feb. 24.
Despite today’s announcement, Breed and Colfax emphasized that the guidance from the Health Department is that teachers do not need to be vaccinated to safely reopen schools. They pointed out that about 113 public, private and parochial schools, plus Community Learning Hubs, have been open for months and have so far reported no outbreaks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed studies that young children have low risk for contracting Covid-19.
“And, when provided the opportunity to do that for the public schools, we did that,” Breed said. Six schools were identified as safe enough to move forward in reopening, according to the Health Department’s application, including Alvarado Elementary School, John Muir Elementary School, Lawton Alternative School, Sunset Elementary School, Dr. William L. Cobb Elementary School and Glen Park School, the mayor said.
This comes amid a lawsuit filed by the City Attorney against the school district for refusing to reopen. On Tuesday, the attorney amended that suit, claiming the San Francisco Unified School District violated the state constitution in failing to reopen schools in a timely fashion.
Meanwhile, there are thousands of healthcare workers and elderly persons who still need shots.
About 131,000 people older than 65 live in San Francisco. About 32 percent of them have received the first dose, and 2.5 percent have received the second dose, Breed said Tuesday. Thirteen percent of San Francisco — including many healthcare workers — have had a first dose and 3 percent have had a second dose, she said. About 80,000 to 90,000 frontline healthcare workers are in the city.
At present, the city has the capacity to deliver up to 10,000 doses a day through its “network” of vaccination sites, including mass sites like City College of San Francisco and Moscone Center, pharmacies, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and community sites like the one at 24th and Capp streets. Still, the majority of vaccines will be administered through residents’ healthcare providers, such as Kaiser Permanente or Dignity Health.
However, that goal of 10,000 shots a day has yet to be met, due to insufficient vaccine supplies from the state and feds, Colfax said on Tuesday.
“We just need supply to meet the demands and the capability of our vaccine infrastructure,” Colfax said.
About 1,300 city-controlled doses per day are being used in the southeast sector, which has been particularly impacted by Covid-19. Many of the recipients are also uninsured or have Medicaid or MediCal, Colfax said.
Diane Jones, a retired HIV nurse who is working at the UCSF/Latino Task Force site at Capp and 24th Street said that qualified residents can go there to make an appointment for as early as Feb. 14 and into the future. If someone prefers getting a same-day appointment at General Hospital — and if the vaccines are available — a shuttle bus will take them from Capp Street to the vaccination site at ZSFGH.
The city is also establishing community sites in other affected neighborhoods and is prioritizing residents in the 94110, 94112, or 94107 zip codes (which encompass parts of the Mission, Outer Mission, Excelsior and Potrero Hill.)
A community site is already open for walk-up appointments at the Southeast Health Center in Bayview, but a larger mass site is also expected at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. Though ethnic and racial breakdowns of vaccine recipients aren’t available yet, Colfax said the data team is working on presenting that to the public as soon as possible.
The site in the Mission, a product of UCSF, the Latino Task Force, and the Department of Public Health, has administered nearly 750 vaccines to eligible persons — dozens who are older than 65 — since it launched last week.
In addition, seniors who may not have access to a cell phone or internet can call 311 and get help in reserving an appointment.
Would his father, who speaks Armenian, be vaccinated if Hagpop wasn’t there? Probably not.
Though more and more doses are getting into people’s arms, the director of public health stressed that covid prevention measures will still be key in keeping the community safe. The current case rate, of 15.5 people per 100,000, rivals the peak case rate during the 2020 summer surge.
And though new daily cases — 135 per day during the seven-day rolling average — have gone down overall in recent weeks, it appears that, in the past few days, it is no longer declining.
“I think we don’t have exactly one reason as to why this is leveled off,” Colfax said. “I do think we know that, as we gradually increase activity in the city, viral cases generally do go up somewhat. So it’s really a matter of trying to mitigate that. …This is a very serious situation. Wear a mask and avoid gatherings.”
To sign up for a vaccine appointment at Moscone Center of City College SF, visit this link.
For eligible groups — healthcare workers and seniors over 65 at present — the vaccination site at 24th and Mission streets will make appointments for those who register at their information desk on Capp Street if slots and supplies are available. It is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays. Appointments are generally made for another day. There is no online registration process, unless you have been contacted by Unidos en Salud because you are eligible and have participated in one of their testing campaigns.
Most people will be contacted by their private providers when they are eligible. Vaccinations are available by appointment invitation only. Those comfortable with online appointments can book online at Kaiser Permanente’s website, Sutter Health’s website, or UCSF’s website. Those who prefer to call can find the numbers for these providers here. San Franciscans can sign up for the city’s Covid-19 vaccination notification system to find out when they are eligible.
Rapid Covid-19 testing is available at the same times and days at the 24th Street BART Plaza.