San Francisco city officials tasked with leading the city’s COVID-19 response said Thursday that although the city is on track to vaccinate all of its residents by June, an unsteady vaccine supply could stifle those plans.
During a hearing on the city’s vaccination distribution at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee, San Francisco Department of Emergency Management executive director Mary Ellen Carroll said the city has been successful in vaccinating thousands of residents across its three mass vaccination sites.
So far, about 285,000 people have been vaccinated at the Moscone South location, while more than 60,000 people vaccinated at the City College of San Francisco site and more than 30,000 at the SF Market site in the Bayview District.
“What we wanted to do, and what I think we’re very proud of, is to get these high-volume sites up in locations that were really accessible to folks throughout the city and in particular in areas where we saw a predominance of COVID,” she said. “This truly has been a partnership not only with our health care providers, but employees from throughout the city in many, many different departments who have participated.”
To date, 66 percent of San Franciscans over the age of 16 have received at least their first vaccine dose.
According to San Francisco Department of Public Health Deputy Director Naveena Bobba, to further ensure equitable access to the vaccine, the city has employed mobile vaccine clinics to underserved areas like high case rate neighborhoods, senior housing sites, single residence occupancy hotels and jails.
“Currently we are deploying one to two daily mobile teams. We could upscale that, the big issue is that we don’t have the supply to do that,” Bobba said. “Mobile vaccinations have been deployed to the Tenderloin, South of Market, Treasure Island, Mission, Bayview, Chinatown, and Nob Hill to name a few, and homebound teams are going all over town. The key challenge here is vaccine supply, as well as what the future state of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are currently reviewing the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over reports of patients getting blood clots.
Efforts to reach other vulnerable populations, like the homeless, include equipping clinics serving homeless patients with the vaccine and deploying mobile vaccination teams at places like safe-sleeping sites, shelter-in-place hotels, and homeless encampments. So far, more than 1,500 homeless San Franciscans have been vaccinated.
Back in January, at the start of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the city’s Department of Public Health anticipated having virtually every San Franciscan vaccinated by June.
“I do think we’re on track. Supply issues are our biggest barrier and that’s what we have the least control over,” Bobba said.
“We really built this system and continue to build it where we see gaps, but as long as the supply continues and there’s not any major other issues that come up with the vaccine, I think we will have the ability to say that by the end of June, the vaccine has reached a place where everyone who wants it should have been able to get it or have been offered it. But, again, I will caveat that with the supply has been very unstable, but these are projections coming from the federal government and that’s what we’re relying on,” she said.