The drive-through mass-vaccination site at City College "softly" opened Friday morning at a five-acre parking lot, with a plan to administer 500 doses today to healthcare workers and people over the age of 65.
With San Francisco having announced an ambitious goal this week of vaccinating every city resident by midway through the year, June 30, the ramping up of mass-vaccination sites will be the vital key in making this happen. Currently, between 30,000 and 40,000 residents have received their first vaccine doses, either because they are front-line healthcare workers or because they are a resident of a skilled nursing facility.
The City College vaccination site is the first to open, and all appointments have been booked, reportedly, through healthcare providers. Two more high-volume sites like this are being planned for February at the Moscone Center in SoMa and the SF Wholesale Produce Market in the Bayview. But getting an appointment when you become eligible may still have to be done through a doctor or hospital system — and the speed at which vaccines can be distributed will depend partly on the volume of vaccine that arrives in the city. Both the city's health department and private healthcare systems are currently receiving batches of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and shipments are reportedly not consistent.
If you are a healthcare worker or are over the age of 65, the SF Department of Public Health is still directing people to contact Kaiser Permanente, UCSF, Dignity Health, or Sutter Health to set up vaccine appointments. Reportedly, all four providers will be providing vaccine to the City College site and other mass-vaccination sites, in addition to the city's own limited supply.
This is still Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout, and the city estimates that there are 200,000 residents who will qualify to be part of this initial phase. Phase 1b, which will include more essential workers, has not yet begun, and Phase 1c will follow after that, with vaccines being given to those with underlying health conditions who are more vulnerable to severe COVID cases. There's a new notification system you can sign up for and the city will alert you by text or email when it's your turn to go get a vaccine dose.
But, as KRON4 reports, once you qualify and have an appointment, you can just drive up and stick an arm out the window of your vehicle to receive a vaccine dose at the City College site. You'll then be asked to pull over to an area to wait 15 minutes, so that you can be monitored for any allergic reactions.
Once you have a first dose, you have to return for the second booster dose in three to four weeks.
The city says that the location of the high-volume vaccination site was based on the fact that "the highest rates of infection are in the Southeast sector of the city, and the City has selected the locations of vaccine sites so they are easily accessible to the residents of these neighborhoods."
Today's "soft-launch" at City College is intended to work out the logistical kinks of the drive-through scenario, as KPIX reports, with the goal of vaccinating 1,000 people per day there soon. The city hopes to be vaccinating 10,000 people per day, at some point.
And hopefully soon, appointments will be more readily available, and/or there will be a site for walk-up vaccinations so we can get this moving.
"We are doing everything we can to help get people vaccinated as quickly as possible," said Mayor London Breed in a statement last week. "The vaccine is the most important tool we have to end this pandemic once and for all, and getting people protected from this virus is our top priority. By creating these vaccination locations with our private healthcare partners and continuing our efforts to serve the highest-need residents by bringing the vaccine to them, we can all work together to move the vaccine more quickly as supply increases."
Top image: Safeway pharmacist Preston Young (L) administers a Moderna COVID-19 vaccination to Cecile Lusby (R) during a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on January 13, 2021 in Santa Rosa, California. Sonoma County health workers received COVID-19 vaccinations during a drive-thru clinic that was hosted by Sonoma County and Safeway. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)