San Francisco's Vaccine Rollout Gradually Picks Up Speed

Updated: Jan 8

  • San Francisco's Department of Public Health has administered more than 6,000 coronavirus vaccines, and more individuals have been vaccinated through UCSF and other hospital systems

  • Because vaccines are administered through individual hospitals and health care providers, we don't know how many total people have received the vaccine in San Francisco

  • Roughly 1.2% of California residents have been vaccinated so far, according to Bloomberg, and the state hopes to have vaccines generally available to all residents by "summer 2021"

San Francisco health officials said on Tuesday that thousands of people have already received the coronavirus vaccine, but can't yet lay out a timeline for how soon the shots will reach the general public.


About 6,000 health care workers were administered doses through San Francisco's Department of Public Health, said Dr. Grant Colfax, the City's health director. In addition, vaccinations of hundreds of Laguna Honda Hospital residents began this week.


Because of complexities in how the vaccine is distributed, however, it's unclear how many total vaccines have been administered in San Francisco or how quickly residents at large will be vaccinated.


"We are working hard, but right now vaccine supply remains limited, and there are many unanswered questions," said Colfax. "We expect that everyone who wants a vaccine will get one, eventually, and we will work together to make this happen."


The state of California is still finalizing its vaccine distribution plans, which will prioritize health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities in the first distribution group, dubbed 1A. Next to receive priority are individuals 75 and older and those at risk of exposure in certain lines of work, followed by younger seniors and people living in congregate facilities, such as prisoners and unsheltered people. The state published preliminary guidance, but is still fine-tuning some of the priority tiers under the direction of a Vaccine Advisory Committee.


California has received 2,039,100 doses of the vaccine, according to Bloomberg, and 22% of those have been administered. All told, around 1.2% of California's population had been vaccinated as of Tuesday.


California's Department of Public Health is allocating doses of the vaccine to multi-county consortia, and the doses are being administered through hospital and public health systems. San Francisco's DPH manages two hospitals, Zuckerberg General Hospital and Laguna Honda, as well as a number of community clinics.


Beyond the 6,000 health care workers vaccinated through SF DPH, Colfax said that he doesn't have "visibility" into exactly how many total San Franciscans have received the shot. He noted that there are about 80,000 total health care workers in San Francisco who are likely to be offered the vaccine on a priority basis. Employees of hospitals are receiving doses directly from their employers, making it difficult to aggregate the total number of vaccinations. The state is working on a vaccine tracking system for localities, Colfax said.


Dr. Joshua Adler, CEO at UCSF Health, said that the hospital was vaccinating 1,100 people per day and planning to ramp up further.


"We need to increase the rate at which we are able to deliver vaccines to people and I believe, from the time we started vaccinating people a couple of weeks ago, this is already happening," said Adler. UCSF is vaccinating members of its staff, and aims to move on to additional groups "in the next few weeks," he said.


Hospitals such as UCSF are receiving doses of the vaccine directly from manufacturers, Adler added. Pfizer and Moderna are the two manufacturers with approved vaccines so far, but others are expected to receive the FDA's rubber stamp in the coming weeks.


Right now, California expects to have vaccines available for anyone who wants one by "summer 2021," but said that the timeline will depend on the speed of manufacturing and other variables.

Image by Jake Buonemani
Image by Rasmus Gundorff Sæderup
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