The flyer for the Covid-19 vaccine pop-up at San Francisco Christian Center. Sign up via this QR code or link, or show up in person. Courtesy of UCSF Dr. Malcolm John.

If you were searching for a vaccine, your prayers have been answered. 

A new pop-up vaccination site will open in the Outer Mission on Saturday, April 24, at the San Francisco Christian Center at 5845 Mission Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The effort is the fifth vaccination pop-up orchestrated by the UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Malcolm John, who leads the Black Health Initiative and the HIV/AIDs program, and Jonathan Butler, an ordained minister and a social epidemiologist who serves on the UCSF faculty. 

The pop-up focuses on Black and Latinx residents, though it won’t be exclusive to them. That design is meant to address the disproportionate death rates these populations have faced during the pandemic, John said.

John, also an ordained minister and a social epidemiologist, said 150 Moderna shots will go into the arms of community members. At present, there are at least 50 doses up for grabs, and all are first-dose appointments. Residents can claim one at the walk-up event tomorrow or online.

In San Francisco, Black residents make up 7.7 percent of Covid-19 deaths but only 5 percent of the population. Latinos continue to represent the most cases, and also represent 20.2 percent of deaths, while comprising 15.2 percent of the population. 

Those disparities are also reflected in the city’s vaccination rates. 

Overall, about 514,281 San Franciscans over 16 — or 67 percent of them — have received at least one dose.

find walk-up vaccines in and near the mission:

So far, approximately 3.6 percent of those who received one identify as Black, 12.4 percent identify as Latinx, 35 percent identify as Asian, and 36 percent identify as white. Black residents make up 4.9 percent of the 16-and-over population, and Latinx residents make up 14 percent of the 16-and-over population. Asian residents make up 35 percent of the 16-and-over population, and white residents make up 41 percent of the 16-and-over population. 

Setting up a vaccination site at a church was deliberate, Butler said. Research suggests that the highest motivator for a person to get inoculated is knowing someone who got it successfully, and churches continue to be  places the Black and Latinx community trust and frequently visit. The Black church is the “foundation of the African American community,” and has been offering Covid-19 tests and food bags since Day 1, Butler said. 

“It offers them intimacy and humanity, and they are seen and cared for, versus a larger site where they just go to get inoculated,” Butler added. 

The Oakland neighborhood coalition Umoja Health, working with UCSF doctors, similarly leveraged historically Black churches in Oakland to provide access to Covid-19 tests and vaccines over the past few months. 

But Saturday’s event at the San Francisco Christian Center is not only about immunizing underserved residents; it also aims to ease residents’ fears about vaccine safety and combat misinformation. For example, residents have asked John if a chip gets inserted in their arms. Of course, he told them, it does not. 

The skepticism is not unfounded. Many Black residents, John said, also remember a time when health institutions let down their community, leading some to be skeptical of the efficacy or intent of those health care providers. A recent investigation into whether the Johnson & Johnson vaccine causes rare blood clots hasn’t helped much, either, he said. (The Food and Drug Administration lifted its pause on J&J on Friday, saying the single-shot vaccine is safe for people age 18 and up.) 

Aside from some who may be apprehensive, John said that scores of Black and Latinx residents are excited to get a shot. “Still the majority of every community is interested in getting vaccinated,” John said, referring to a December 2020 UCLA Fielding School of Public Health survey that reported 88 percent of Asians, 82.7 percent of White residents, 79.2 percent of Latinx and 58 percent of Black residents wanted the vaccine. 

And his main goal for those who are on the fence is not necessarily to convince them to take the shot (though that is his specific medical opinion), but to answer questions and assuage fears about it. 

“Clearly, there’s still questions within the Black community which are valid based on our experiences,” John said. “I am here to demystify any myths so that they can make a decision of power and strength. If, after the talk they say, ‘I want to wait and see and to get more questions answered later,’ that’s fine.”  

In those conversations, he reminds people that the likelihood of becoming ill from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is lower than a woman’s chance of getting blood clots after using contraceptive pills — or, most importantly, than of dying of Covid-19. He also stresses why he wanted to inoculate himself: that the value clearly outweighs the risks.

“I want to visit my parents in their retirement in Trinidad,” John said. “And I want a birthday party. We throw great parties.”

Visit the vaccine pop-up tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, at the San Francisco Christian Center on 5845 Mission Street from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Or, register via https://rb.gy/5FFMQR .

Annika Hom

Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused...

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