San Francisco city and health officials announced this week that they plan to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to all 870,000 residents of the city by June 30th.
In San Francisco, rollouts have been slow. As of mid-week, only 31,000 vaccines had been administered, with only 7,000 of those receiving a second dose thus far. This is despite the city receiving 103,000 doses from the government and more than 210,000 people in the city currently being eligible to receive the vaccine by being listed in the first phase or by being over the age of 65.
With a need to drastically ramp up vaccinations in the city, and San Francisco falling behind cities like Los Angeles in the total number of doses administered, the total vaccination by summer plan as revealed at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday.
“Working with our major health system partners and other community clinics, our goal by June 30 is to get our entire population of 900,000-plus individuals in San Francisco vaccinated for COVID-19,” said Director of the San Francisco Health Network Roland Pickens on Wednesday. “As you can imagine there will be many twists and turns in the road, but we are feeling confident that once the vaccine supply is more readily available and reliable we will be able to reach this goal based on our current planning and collaboration.”
“The chief obstacle we are facing is not enough doses. You only get it one way; you get it for free and you get it from the federal government.”
While the city aims to get more doses soon, they are also following the lead of Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and other Californian cities by building large mass vaccination centers at high-capacity areas. A large drive through center at the City College of San Francisco is due to open on Friday, with other large vaccination centers also going up soon at the Moscone Center and the San Francisco Market. By the time they are all open and enough doses arrive, the city said they could be vaccinating up to 10,000 people a day.
“Many things we’ve been pushing for for the past few weeks and there were no commitments to do, we now have commitments,” said Supervisor Matt Haney during the meeting. “The private health care providers are all committed to sharing data. There are now timelines on mass vaccination sites, including one opening on Friday. And there’s commitment to a goal of when we can vaccinate everyone in the city and a daily goal. This is good.”
An unrealistic and impossible timeline
However, despite the optimism shown by the Supervisors and health officials, many noted that the timeline is very unrealistic.
“San Francisco was even less prepared for vaccinations than Los Angeles,” Peter Inouye, a Bay Area nurse who has helped care for COVID-19 patients and is currently helping administer the vaccine, explained to the Globe. “I’ve been to enough meetings to know that a promise of total vaccinations means nothing if we don’t get the vaccines in the first place. That’s the big hang-up. There’s no guarantee that San Francisco will even get half that many doses by the spring. And also, what if production has to stop or something?”
“You also have to take into account the number of people refusing doses. 20 to 40% of all healthcare workers are refusing it right now. I know a few in San Francisco who are just saying no to it. So that trend gets even more worrying when we get to the general public, because there we have even more refusing it, as well as people like anti-vaxxers. So, with that taken into account, it’s an impossible task. but the city made a big promise anyway. They just can’t meet it. It’s a good goal to have, but it’s a promise they will have to break.”
While not mentioning the high numbers of vaccine refusals, city officials this week have noted that the need for vaccines, like much of the country, is needed.
“We simply need more vaccines,” stated Mayor London Breed on Tuesday after announcing that the vaccine supply in the city was exhausted.
New vaccination figures are expected to be released by the city next week, which may signal how the city is responding to the new ‘by summer’ total vaccination goal.