By Annette Mullaney
Five hundred people received Moderna vaccinations against COVID-19 at the opening of San Francisco’s first mass vaccination site Friday, Jan.22 on City College’s Ocean Campus.
The site, operated by UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, is the first of three planned mass vaccination sites, an integral part of Mayor London Breed’s plan to vaccinate all residents by June 30. The second, at Moscone Center in SoMa, opened Feb. 5, with another in the Bayview set to open in the coming weeks.
When fully operational, the site will deliver 3,000 vaccines a day. While vaccine availability is the current limiter, COO of Ambulatory Services at UCSF David Morgan said it could be staff in the future with hospitals so inundated. Sixty people operated eight lanes to deliver 500 vaccines on opening day. “My biggest worry is in three weeks, will I have enough vaccine and enough staff?”
But on opening day, the mood was ebullient. “We’ve had a couple people cry out of joy,” said a city representative checking people in. “It’s a great way to spend a Friday, even in the rain.”
Vaccine recipient Bridget Bryne, 73, beamed, “I didn’t feel a thing!”
Her daughter, Siofra Byrne, who drove her, joked she was “100% jealous,” adding, “I’m really relieved that she’s gonna be protected.”
“Walkups,” that is, pedestrians, were turned away, as the site is currently only open to patients in cars. Plans are underway to accommodate those arriving on foot, important in a city where 30% of households don’t own automobiles.
Morgan said there are limited vaccines for those over 65 without appointments, depending on the number of no-shows. Opening day, he estimated no-shows at under 1%. Even if they can’t get the vaccine then, they can add themselves to the site’s waitlist, for any leftover vaccines at the end of the day. “The goal is to get shots in arms,” Morgan said.
Ann Vivit, 72, and her partner drove up without an appointment and had no problem getting vaccinated. She expressed frustration at the many ways she had tried to get an appointment unsuccessfully, adding “It’s to be expected when rolling out something big like this.”