San Francisco opens neighborhood coronavirus vaccine site in the Mission – San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco opened its first neighborhood coronavirus vaccination site in the Mission District on Monday, with plans to open a second in the Bayview in the coming days.

In a parking lot on the corner of 24th and Capp streets, city and state officials cheered as the leaders of two Latino nonprofits who have been serving the community throughout the pandemic received their first shots. The Mission site is part of a growing network of vaccine clinics that offer hope for the end of the pandemic, city leaders said, even as San Francisco struggles with limited vaccine supply.

“I’m really excited today,” Mayor London Breed said. “Now, finally, we’re in a decent place. No, it’s not perfect. No, we haven’t been able to address the disparity that continues to persist, although we’ve invested over $26 million in helping to provide additional resources. But there’s still more that needs to be done.

“We know this is the best shot we have at getting back to the lives we all know and miss,” she said.

The new location targets a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the virus. Latinos in San Francisco make up more than 42% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the city, despite accounting for just 15% of the population, according to the most recent public health data. They also account for over 20% of the deaths from the disease.

The Mission site currently operates on an invitation, appointment-only basis, serving community health workers and local residents over the age of 65 within the Unidos en Salud/United in Health network.

San Francisco is still prioritizing health care workers, plus in-home support services staff and long-term care residents, in its vaccination rollout. So far, 104,000 out of 210,000 people in that first phase group have received a dose, health director Dr. Grant Colfax said Monday.

Demand for the vaccine in San Francisco continues to far outpace supply from the state and federal government. San Francisco has built up the infrastructure to administer 10,000 vaccines a day, but is only getting around 11,000 a week, Colfax said.

Breed said San Francisco has so far received 150,000 vaccine doses and issued over 90,000 of those. The rest are scheduled for second doses.

“We’re basically still slow in terms of the number of vaccines that we are getting. My understanding is we expect that to ramp up just a little bit especially with what our President is trying to do to get more vaccines made faster,” Breed said, adding she has been “very aggressive” with the governor to get more for San Francisco.

State Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, said Monday there has been “a lot of frustration” about the slow start to the vaccine rollout in California.

“It is changing and it’s starting to accelerate, it will continue to accelerate,” he said. “These vaccines are going to save our planet from this pandemic.”

Ramping up the new site in the Mission District depends on supply. During a soft launch period, the health department said the site will administer about 120 vaccinations a day. The site may increase to 400 vaccinations a day as supply increases.

The location was intentional to mitigate the devastating impacts of the virus in the Latino community.

“It’s taken the entire barrio to deal with this pandemic,” said Roberto Hernandez, co-founder of the Latino Task Force. “A lot of the people we work with are the most vulnerable people, the hardest working people, minimum wage workers who have no health insurance, they have no 401K. They have no retirement plans. This pandemic has hurt them in ways than you can ever imagine.”

The Mission District site opened at 9 a.m. for the first appointment. By 10 a.m., Jose Ortiz, family support specialist with non-profit Casa Corazon, had received his first dose. The 43-year-old was eligible as a community health care worker, the site’s organizers said, since he works closely with impacted families both in person and remotely.

Ortiz said everyone in his community knows at least one person who has fallen ill or died from the virus.

“When you work with people all the time, you need to protect yourself and your family, and their family as well,” he said. Placing a clinic in “the heart of the Mission is very important, so everybody can see and go.”

The new clinic will work in conjunction with a coronavirus testing site at the BART plaza at 24th and Mission streets, which operates four days a week. The privately funded vaccine clinic grew out of Unidos en Salud, a collaboration between UCSF and the Latino Task Force that has run testing sites in the Mission.

“We know that interest in getting vaccinated is very high in the community,” said Dr. Diane Havlir, a professor of medicine at UCSF and a co-founder of the collaboration. “We asked more than 5,000 adults who came for testing last month at the 24th Street BART plaza, and 86% said they were open to getting vaccinated.”

The Department of Public Health said it is hoping to establish neighborhood vaccine sites in the Bayview, Excelsior, Visitacion Valley and other neighborhoods with the highest infection rates for COVID-19. The city is also partnering with Safeway pharmacies to bring vaccines to various neighborhoods.

“This is a community that never stands by and lets anyone fall to the wayside,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who represents the Mission. “Hang in there, San Franciscans. We’re almost out of this and we can get to the end together.”

Mallory Moench and Aidin Vaziri are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: [email protected][email protected] [email protected] Twitter: @mallorymoench

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