As Omicron appears to be driving a spike in daily new cases in the city and across the country, the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) is shouting from the rooftops to get everyone a booster shot.

53% of eligible San Franciscans have gotten their booster shots as of Wednesday, and for those 65 and older it's 70%, according to DPH. But that isn't good enough to combat the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. As of Thursday, San Francisco's daily average case count has shot up to 215 — a five-fold increase from the beginning of December — and Omicron is likely the culprit, though not all samples have been genetically sequenced.

"Omicron is rapidly spreading, and all evidence points to the fact that we need to do more to protect ourselves and others from infection," said Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax in a statement. “Boosters are key right now for your own protection and those you love."

Colfax added, "We also want people to celebrate the holidays more safely and with an extra dose of caution, and that includes layering our defenses and taking extra caution around those who are at higher risk, including people who are elderly, immunocompromised, or unvaccinated like small children."

With that in mind, the city is offering free booster shots at four locations — several of which should be familiar from the early days of vaccine administration this past spring.

They are:

  • Zuckerberg SF General Hospital (1001 Potrero Ave, Bldg 30)  
  • Southeast Health Center (2401 Keith Street)  
  • Chinese Hospital (845 Jackson Street) — closed Dec. 24
  • Kaiser Tent (2350 Geary Blvd) — closed Dec. 24

The vaccine site at SF General is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (or until supplies run out), and the Southeast Health Center in the Bayview is open from 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, and Friday-Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. There are also dozens of other places in the city to get free boosters, including more drop-in sites, which you can see here.

There are also many places to get tested if you think you may have been exposed to COVID, or if you are planning to travel to visit vulnerable loved ones. You can still get free COVID tests at Alemany Market (100 Alemany Blvd), and at COLOR testing sites around the city. Find all your testing options here.

DPH is also recommending everyone wear N95 masks in crowded situations and especially on airplanes — or at the very least, tight-fitting double masks.

"All of us have a date with omicron," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, speaking recently to the McClatchy wire service. "If you’re going to interact with society, if you’re going to have any type of life, omicron will be something you encounter, and the best way you can encounter this is to be fully vaccinated."

Photo by Michele Lapini/Getty Images