A new vaccination clinic with phone appointments and some drop-in availability has opened to serve the hard-hit Excelsior District, much like neighborhood clinics that have opened in the Mission, Tenderloin, and Bayview.
Mayor London Breed had mentioned two months ago that this clinic would be opening, and as of Wednesday, April 7, it is now open four days a week — Wednesday to Saturday.
The clinic at 20 Norton Street — on an SFMTA lot, not far from Mission Street — was opened with the help of community groups Excelsior Strong and the Latino Task Force, working in with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The site is easily accessible via several Muni bus lines and the Balboa Park BART station, and appointments can be made by calling 415-562-8638. The clinic will be open Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on Fridays from 12 to 6 p.m.
The site is intended for Excelsior neighborhood residents only, and those who work in the neighborhood. Registration workers at the vaccine clinic say that walk-up registration is possible, but same-day shots are not guaranteed for walk-up clients — you may have to wait for an available slot.
Still, D11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai praised the site, in a press event Wednesday morning attended by Mission Local, saying it provided a "low-barrier" to getting vaccinated, which is exactly what the neighborhood needs.
"We have tremendous — let me say that again — tremendous leaders in the Excelsior, who have risen up and demanded resources in our community," he said.
Shout out to the newest community-based vaccine site in the #Excelsior. Thank you to @LatinoTask #ExcelsiorStrong @Ahsha_Safai for your work to bring vaccines to one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19. https://t.co/Qzqgje26Fs pic.twitter.com/MTAmlAeqp9— SFDPH (@SF_DPH) April 7, 2021
Mary Ellen Carroll, the head of SF's Department of Emergency Management, said on Twitter of the site's opening, "I am inspired and humbled by the power, unity and effectiveness of community driven response supported by City partners."
Cristina Centeno, a site co-leader and volunteer with Excelsior Strong, spoke in Spanish at the event, and as Mission Local reports, she said, "Our community has been greatly affected [by COVID-19], and we know that there’s been some doubts [about the vaccines]. Having this nearby is convenient, and allows people to be educated about it. There’s been a lot of misinformation."
Spanish and Chinese speakers at the site will be able to assist in answering residents' questions, and longtime neighborhood Rosario Cervantes told Mission Local she thought that would help convince many.
The site only has capacity to do about 150 shots per day, with hopes to ramp that up soon, while bigger sites at City College and the Moscone Center are administering thousands per day. But community leaders stressed that this outreach was necessary in order to reach as many residents.
In February, small-scale clinics with drop-in vaccine availability have opened in the Tenderloin, Bayview, Mission, and at SF General, for residents who reside in specific area codes — but initially eligibility was only for those 65 and older. That has since changed.
Photo: Mary Ellen Carroll/Twitter