Starting Tuesday, you can sign up to receive an automatic notification when you are eligible to receive your vaccine shot. Trouble is, you probably won’t receive that notification for several months.


Last Friday’s announcement that we would have three mass vaccination sites in San Francisco  (Moscone Center, the City College of San Francisco's main campus, and The SF Market) also came with a somewhat buried bit of news that people could receive an alert informing you that your magic moment has arrived and you have the all clear to go get your first of two vaccine shots. As you see below, they are currently contacting people who are eligible and enrolled through the SF Health Network, which includes a dozen or so hospitals and clinics citywide. The vast majority of us, however, are not enrolled at an SF Health Network. How do we know when we can get the vaccine?

The city has also launched a COVID-19 vaccine eligibility website that will send you that notification via text or email. You can sign up for notifications beginning Tuesday, January 19. While the registration is not live yet, from the looks of the site, they’ll apparently be asking for your email or phone number (to notify you), your age, your sector of employment, and whether you meet any certain health conditions that make you more vulnerable to infection.

Now for the bad news — First, the website itself says “You may not get a notification for months, because vaccines are in limited supply.” Then there is further reason to not hold your breath, because the Moderna vaccine distribution may be paused over a smattering of allergic reactions, so that’s going to slow the process. Yet another unpredictable variable is that President-elect Biden might hold back the second doses, and of course two shots are required for effectiveness. That's just a brief primer on what hurdles may come up in mass vaccination snafus, institutional screw ups, and other various mishaps that could and probably will delay a full rollout of the vaccines.

The city’s vaccination plan is likely to be carried out in accordance with the California vaccination plan. That plan is currently getting the shots to healthcare workers and long-term care residents, and will then proceed to people 65 and older, and education and childcare workers, emergency services personnel, and food and agriculture workers.

But what if you don’t have health insurance, or are enrolled in  Healthy SF? While there’s little guidance in that department now, there’s reason to believe you can eventually still get your shot for free. Just like with the initial hold-ups with testing, that service eventually became free even to the uninsured. Vaccination is likely to as well, and the city is kind of telegraphing that this will happen.

“The City and health care providers will augment COVID-19 vaccination in high impacted communities with pop-up vaccine sites, DPH’s community clinics, and other safety-net clinics for the uninsured and underserved in neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Mission, Western Addition, and Bayview,” Mayor Breed said in her Friday announcement. “The City is also working with One Medical, Safeway, and Walgreens to deliver vaccines as doses become available. Additionally, the City has been working with partners to develop mobile vaccination teams to deploy to hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.”

Related: Biden Taps UCSF Prof. David Kessler to Lead Vaccine Distribution Effort [SFist]

Image: CDC via Unsplash