Left to right: Joe Leonor, his brother-in-law Marco Toscano, and his wife Monica Toscano Leonor. The group, who are eligible as caregivers for Toscano Leonor’s mother, received their first vaccine doses on Tuesday. “It was real simple and easy, the people here are very nice,” Leonor said. Photo by Juan Carlos Lara.

The demographics of those standing in line at the Capp and 24th street vaccination site has shifted from elders to mostly younger restaurant workers.

Almost all in line on Tuesday morning said they were excited about getting vaccinated. Though a few initially had reservations, those had been overcome by research, friends or the community outreach of the Unidos en Salud collaboration between UCSF and the Latino Task Force. 

“I used to say I wouldn’t get it, but now I know it’s necessary,” Rosa Perez, a 50-year-old restaurant worker said in Spanish. Like others, she was put off by stories of chills and pains but then learned enough to make her comfortable. And, after all, she said, it was meant to be. 

“Since the start, we’ve been asking God for a vaccine, and now that we have one, we have to take advantage of it,” she said. 

Juan Arteaga, 40, who also works in a restaurant, hesitated about getting vaccinated as well. What convinced him was “a little bit of everything,” he said. In the end, the pandemic’s consequences outweighed his fears.

“The virus is bad — the economy is hurting, and there isn’t much work,” he said in Spanish. “There are very few hours available and much rent to pay.”

The site, which UCSF and the Latino Task Force raised money to fund for two months, recently increased its daily vaccine capacity to 300 and also refers about 200 people a day to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. For those without rides, volunteers drive them over in a shuttle, and most get same-day vaccinations. 

Shuttling residents over to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital for vaccinations. Photo by Lydia Chávez

It’s unclear what will happen to the Capp Street site at the end of its second month, on March 31. The expectation was that the Department of Pubic Health would step in, but so far, no firm commitment has been made.

“We are continuing to work with the Latino Task Force and community partners to increase vaccine access for Latinx community in the Mission District. We are evaluating all of these options with the current resources available and will make a decision soon,” the Department of Public Health wrote in response to a question about the site’s future. 

Though workers in emergency services, food, agriculture, education and childcare sectors are eligible to get vaccinated in San Francisco, most in line at Capp street who weren’t 65 or older were restaurant workers. Some had been told by a supervisor at work that they needed to get vaccinated.

Jose Ventura, 52, said his employer told him to get a shot, but that was fine with him, as he, too, wanted to get vaccinated. Though he was turned away from the site for not having an ID, he plans to return tomorrow.

“The help they’re offering people makes me happy,” he said in Spanish.

The Feb. 24 vaccine eligibility expansion to other essential workers is also likely the cause of the increase in younger residents waiting in line at Capp Street. As of Tuesday, 68 percent of the over-65 population in the city had received at least one dose, and 35 percent had received a second.

By the end of Tuesday, Unidos en Salud had vaccinated 291 residents at Capp Street, only 87 of which were seniors. In addition, it referred 228 residents to ZSFGH, and 155 got vaccinated on Tuesday, with the rest getting appointments for another day.

The youngest person waiting for a shot that Mission Local spoke to was Alejandra Chávez, 23, a patient coordinator at one of UCSF’s Covid vaccination sites. She was directed to the Capp site by UCSF, likely because the site is close to her home.

“Basically, all of the nurses and everybody there had already got the vaccine, so I felt like I owed it to society to get it,” she said.

And the smattering of elders in line were elated to receive a second shot.

Maria Lorenzi, 77, first found out about the site a month ago while walking around the Mission. She saw the line, asked some questions, and was registered for an appointment.

Now that she has both shots, she feels relieved and is looking forward to her life starting to go back to normal.

“I don’t play Russian roulette with my body,” she said.

Like Lorenzi, most in line said they found out about the Capp site through various routes: word of mouth, a neighbor, a news story or an advertisement.  All said the site was easy to use and praised the Unidos en Salud workers coordinating the site.

Noah, 26, found about the site from the Unidos en Salud volunteers who went door-to-door in late February to register newly-eligible essential workers for a shot. He said they knocked on his door multiple times, floating the possibility of vaccination.

“It’s really cool to see the local initiative,” he said.

Linda Chappo, 72, couldn’t find any appointments online a month ago when she first tried to get vaccinated. Staff at the Capp site called her and asked if she wanted an appointment, and she immediately said yes. 

She got her second dose on Tuesday. “I’m excited,” she said. “Life is not back to normal yet, but it’s on its way.”

Appointments to get vaccinated at Capp Street can be made in person at the site, at the 24th Street BART testing site and at the Thursday testing at the Alabama Street Hub. It runs Sunday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Tuesday, the line for an appointment was hardly any wait at all.

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Kate Selig

Kate Selig is an intern at Mission Local.

Juan Carlos Lara

Juan Carlos Lara covers business and development in the Mission. Juan Carlos, a San Francisco State alum, is as much a photographer as he is a writer and previously worked as the campus news editor at...

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3 Comments

  1. Since the Mission is in the bottom quarter for people getting vaccines right now, I’m going to say that The City’s efforts there have not been enough. The Latino Task Force/UCSF site is nice, but it’s a bandaid when major surgery is needed. Worse, the PR around this one small site hides the major problems in that neighborhood. DPH should revamp the whole approach in the Mission, because it’s been too little, too slow so far.

  2. such great news. I’m so happy to see those who have been on the frontlines during the pandemic can get protected.

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