Public health officials said Wednesday at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing that they have set a goal to vaccinate the more than 900,000 people who live and work in San Francisco by the end of June.
The announcement comes as The City was about to run out of vaccine supply by Thursday, Mayor London Breed said at a Tuesday press conference. The California Department of Public Health issued a statement Wednesday related to the Moderna vaccine lot found to have induced severe allergic reactions in a handful of people in San Diego. The pause was lifted and the lot was again approved for immediate use.
After consulting with federal officials and the manufacturer, the state said there was no evidence to support a continued pause on the vaccine lot distribution. Department of Public Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax said the latest decision freed up about 8,000 doses of Moderna vaccine.
Supervisor Matt Haney called for the hearing, citing frustration over a lack of coordination strategy in opening large-scale vaccination sites. He said:
“There is nothing more important, and I think that we all agree, is the immediate mass distribution of this vaccine as soon as we can secure it to every single San Franciscan who needs and wants it.”
The City is opening its first drive-thru mass vaccination site Friday at City College of San Francisco’s main campus. The site will only be open to those with appointments who receive care from a UCSF provider and who are currently eligible to receive the vaccine are under state prioritization guidelines.
UCSF is working in partnership with Dignity Health and One Medical to operate the City College site.
Roland Pickens, San Francisco Health Network director and a vaccination planning lead, told supervisors that The City is working to launch a system where residents can sign up to make appointments.
Pickens said the mass vaccination sites will eventually serve those who work and live in San Francisco, regardless of individual healthcare providers.
The City College site is described as a soft opening site, as a way to work out logistical kinks and create a model for future sites. Only 500 doses are expected to be administered Friday, officials said.
Limited vaccine supply has been an issue in The City, according to healthcare providers who took part in the hearing.
“The chief obstacle is not enough doses.”
Some said they were surprised Gov. Gavin Newsom expanded the eligibility to people aged 65 and older when the supply is currently so limited.
Ron Groepper, senior vice president for Kaiser Permanente for the greater San Francisco area, said the expansion makes another six million people eligible for vaccination.
“Unfortunately the vaccine supply as you have heard has not been increased to vaccinate that number of people. Right now vaccines are an extremely short supply for all of our distributors, including Kaiser Permanente.”
Currently, UCSF, Sutter Health, Dignity Health and Kaiser are only vaccinating frontline healthcare workers and those aged 75 and older.
Rob Nordgren, CEO for the Sutter Bay Medical Foundation, said Sutter has about 200,000 patients in The City, He said Sutter has administered about 7,500 doses to employees and expects 1,000 patients to receive the vaccine by the end of the week.
Last week, Sutter opened its vaccination eligibility to those 75 and older and Nordgren said he hopes to lower eligibility to 65 when supply becomes available.
Officials are working with healthcare providers to open additional mass vaccination sites, including one at Moscone Center and another at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market.
Haney said he plans to introduce an emergency ordinance next Tuesday that would require the Department of Public Health to develop and publish a comprehensive vaccination plan.
As of Tuesday, 31,189 people citywide have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, according to data from DPH.
Jerold serves as a reporter and San Francisco Bureau Chief for SFBay covering transportation and occasionally City Hall and the Mayor's Office in San Francisco. His work on transportation has been recognized by the San Francisco Press Club. Born and raised in San Francisco, he graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in journalism. Jerold previously wrote for the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, noncommercial news organization. When not reporting, you can find Jerold taking Muni to check out new places to eat in the city.