After a long, difficult year living through an unprecedented pandemic, the development of multiple COVID-19 vaccines has finally provided hope that a new day is quickly approaching. Understandably, people want to know, “When can I or my loved ones get vaccinated?” “How do I schedule an appointment to get vaccinated?” and “Is the vaccine safe?”
These are important questions, since a safe and effective COVID vaccine is one of the most important tools we have — along with masks and social distancing — to end this pandemic and get our city on the road to recovery.
Vaccinating people on this scale, and in the midst of a pandemic is unlike anything this country has done before. Since there are a lot of moving pieces, it’s understandable that there’s some confusion and questions. I want to make sure people have clear, accurate, and up-to-date information about the COVID-19 vaccine, and understand what we’re doing in San Francisco to get people vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible.
In addition to the information below, we’re regularly updating SF.gov/covidvaccine with answers to frequently asked questions and resources for people who live in work in San Francisco.
San Francisco is ready to administer 10,000 vaccines per day, but the main issue facing us and the country right now is a lack of available doses. When production and distribution ramp up, we stand ready to quickly get them administered to our residents so we can move on towards our recovery.
Here’s how we’re going to get it done.
Creating a Network of Vaccination Locations
We are creating a network of vaccination locations across the city, including high-volume sites, existing community clinics, new community vaccination access sites, mobile vaccination teams, and partnerships with pharmacies.
We have a plan and we are ready to distribute at least 10,000 doses per day once we have enough supply of vaccine. We can ramp the system to do more than that as we get more supply. This network of vaccination locations is in partnership with our healthcare providers, pharmacies and community organizations.
But so far, the amount of vaccine we are receiving from the state and federal government is insufficient, inconsistent, and unpredictable. To fully deliver this plan, we need more vaccine and we will continue to do everything we can to be ready when our supply of vaccine does increase.
High-Volume Vaccination Sites
As part of our plan to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, we are creating high-volume vaccination sites that will serve anyone eligible to receive the vaccine regardless of health coverage (currently by appointment only).
Once we have enough supply, anyone who lives or works in San Francisco will be able to get vaccinated at one of these sites, regardless of who their insurer is or their insurance status.
To create these sites, we are coordinating with the City’s health care providers who are receiving a majority of San Francisco’s vaccine doses directly from the state, such as UCSF Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health/CPMC, and Dignity Health.
We just opened a new high-volume vaccination site at the Moscone Center, in partnership with Kaiser Permanente and a consortium of healthcare organizations. Once fully ramped up, this site will have the capacity to administer between 7,000–10,000 vaccine doses per day.
On January 22, we opened the first of three high-volume vaccination sites in San Francisco at City College on Ocean Avenue. The site started with capacity for 500 doses per day, but will have the capacity to administer more than 3,000 doses once we have the supply. Next up will be a site in the Bayview.
Meeting People Where they Are
In addition to creating high-volume vaccination sites, we are working to make sure communities most highly-impacted by COVID-19 receive equitable access to the vaccine. These targeted efforts include mobile vaccination teams, community vaccine access sites, San Francisco Department of Public Health’s community clinics, and other safety net clinics in neighborhoods such as Chinatown, the Mission, the Western Addition, and the Bayview. We will also have mobile teams to vaccinate harder-to-reach populations.
One clear lesson we learned from setting up our successful testing system was that to reach everyone in our City, you can’t just have large sites. This network is being designed to be flexible and widespread so we can cover as much of the City as possible and meet people where they are.
Reaching our Most Vulnerable
Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have prioritized equity and bringing resources, whether it’s testing, food, or other services directly to those who are most in need and highly impacted. To make sure vaccine distribution and administration is equitable, we are providing targeted efforts to make sure communities that have been hardest-hit by COVID have access to the vaccine. These vaccines offer individual protections from the virus, but our public health as a City and our ability to control the spread is dependent on all of our communities receiving vaccines.
We chose the locations for the high-volume sites to most conveniently serve neighborhoods that have been hard-hit by COVID-19. Many of these are neighborhoods in the southeastern part of the City that are home to essential workers, people living in crowded conditions, and people without access to health care. By keeping these communities in mind when establishing our high-volume vaccination sites, we will be able to keep some of our most vulnerable residents safe while addressing existing health disparities and advancing social and racial equity.
We also know that not everyone has access to a car, and we want to make sure that we have vaccination locations that are accessible for pedestrians, or people on bikes or transit. There is a walk-through option at City College, and the high-volume site at Moscone is walk-through. Additionally, the site at the SF Market in the Bayview will be both drive-through and walk-through.
In addition to the high-volume sites at City College and the Moscone Center, and the site opening soon at the SF Market in the Bayview, we’re also working to bring vaccines to people in the communities most impacted by COVID, through neighborhood vaccine access sites, community clinics, and mobile vaccination teams. For example, DPH is vaccinating SF Health Network members and community members who are 65 and older and health clinics throughout the city.
Earlier this week, the first neighborhood vaccine access site opened in the Mission District at 24th and Capp Streets. The 24th Street site is by appointment only and is serving community health workers and local residents over the age of 65 within the Unidos en Salud network, which includes people who are uninsured.
We’re also conducting community outreach in multiple languages to make sure that everyone who lives in San Francisco has information about the vaccine that is accessible and easy to understand.
Ready to Go When Supply Increases
We are moving the vaccines we have quickly, but we still have a very limited supply, which will continue to slow our ability to move to the next tier. It’s important to know that the state and federal government control the vaccine allocation process. They made the decision to use the existing health care structure for vaccine distribution, which explains why two-thirds of the vaccine that comes into San Francisco goes to private health care providers. Since vaccines are being allocated directly to health care providers, it’s critical that we as a City work with them to facilitate vaccine administration.
We are following the state’s prioritization phases. The first phase of vaccinations is large — in San Francisco, it includes over 210,000 people, which means we need 420,000 doses to provide the first and second vaccine doses. However, San Francisco’s entire system — private health care providers and our Department of Public Health — has received only a third of the needed doses for this first group.
As of January 29, health care providers in San Francisco have received 144,000 vaccine doses, and approximately 80,000 of those doses have been administered. The majority of the remaining doses are already committed for people to receive their second dose. We’re moving quickly: 98% of the vaccines in the City have either been administered or committed for second doses, leaving only 2% of doses received for upcoming first dose appointments. We continue to ask the state for more doses to get more people vaccinated.
COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know
People eligible for the vaccine now are healthcare workers and those 65 years and older. Due to limited supply, the state has created a prioritization plan for who gets the vaccine and when. In San Francisco, those currently eligible under the state prioritization plan includes over 210,000 people, so this is an incredibly large group for us to work through.
The state’s prioritization guidance is regularly evolving, and we are monitoring everything closely to make sure that if changes are made and we have sufficient supply, we can quickly begin vaccinating any newly eligible categories.
It’s important to remember that right now, due the limited supply, you might not be able to get a vaccine right away even if you are eligible. For example, even though people 65 and older are eligible for vaccination, most health care systems are starting with vaccinating people who are 75 years and older.
Vaccine Notification — sign-up to receive a text or email when you’re eligible to be vaccinated
In San Francisco, we’ve developed a tool to help people find out when they are eligible. Anyone who works or lives in San Francisco can sign up for a notification when they are eligible for vaccination at SF.gov/vaccinenotify
Making an Appointment for Vaccination
We’re excited to announce that people who are eligible to be vaccinated can now sign up for appointments at SF.gov/getvaccinated. Appointments are limited due to supply constraints, but they’ll continue to become more available as we receive more doses.
The San Francisco Department of Public Health is reaching out to City healthcare workers and to people 65 and older who are members of the San Francisco Health Network to schedule appointments.
If you are a health care worker you should contact your employer, because there are different ways to access the vaccine depending on your workplace. More information about health care worker vaccination in San Francisco is available online here.
If you’re not currently eligible, know that we have a plan and we are moving as quickly as possible to get people vaccinated once more supply becomes available.
As supply increases and more widespread distribution becomes possible, we’re creating an online system to coordinate appointments between the various healthcare providers. Since the federal and state governments are giving the majority of vaccines to different healthcare providers directly, we’re working to centralize that system and bring them together in one place for people to make appointments, regardless of their insurance.
Recently, I held a talk with two medical experts at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s Acting Health Officer and Dr. Naveena Bobba, Deputy Director of Health, to discuss our plan and where we are. I hope these resources can help people as we move through this difficult time.
More COVID-19 Vaccine Resources
Anyone who works or lives in San Francisco can sign up for a notification when they are eligible for vaccination at SF.gov/vaccinenotify
When you’re eligible, go to SF.gov/getvaccinated to book an appointment.
We will continue to provide regular updates to the public about the vaccine in San Francisco and are regularly updating information online at SF.gov/covidvaccine
We also set up a dashboard where you can get the most up to date information we have on vaccine distribution in San Francisco.
For people who don’t have access to the internet, COVID-19 vaccine information is available by calling 3–1–1.
We’ve never done anything like this before in this country, state or city — vaccinating this many people, as quickly as possible — all in the midst of a pandemic. We will continue to work with our private healthcare partners like Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health/CPMC, as well as UCSF Health to make sure we all are moving vaccines as fast as possible.
We need more supply, but when we do get it, we will deliver it. The City has come together — both public and private sectors — to deliver on what we know we need to do.