The opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

City launches new mass vaccination site amid calls for better data, communication

While members of the Board of Supervisors called for improvement in The City’s roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine at a hearing in San Francisco Thursday, city officials announced the opening of a second mass vaccination site at Moscone Center.

The Moscone Center vaccination site, which opens Friday in the South of Market neighborhood, will initially serve residents by appointment only and take only health care workers or those ages 65 and older, as called for by the state’s prioritization plan.

The site has the capacity to administer between 7,000 to 10,000 COVID-19 vaccinations daily, but that will not happen until the supply of vaccines increases.

Since mid-December, 75,275 San Francisco residents have received their first dose against COVID-19, about 10% of the 753,1447 residents ages 18 years and older. The Department of Public Health previously announced a goal of vaccinating at least 900,000 people who live and work in San Francisco by June 30. The speed at which people are vaccinated would have to increase significantly to reach that goal.

The City has also launched a mass vaccination site at City College’s Main Campus, which could vaccinate up to 3,000 a day once there is sufficient supply, and plans to open a third one in the Bayview neighborhood at the SF Market, which would be a drive up or walk up site.

Ezekiel Logan, a 96-year-old World War II Navy veteran, prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from Kaiser nurse Jamie Rant at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Ezekiel Logan, a 96-year-old World War II Navy veteran, prepares to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from Kaiser nurse Jamie Rant at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

“We are working every day to set up systems to get people vaccinated as soon as we have the supply,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement.

The operation of the Moscone site is being led by Kaiser Permanente, along with other health partners. Appointments can be made on the state’s online vaccine eligibility and appointment scheduling website myturn.ca.gov.

Other vaccine sites, however, are on different scheduling platforms and there is not a map of all the sites offering doses. Ways to schedule vaccine appointments at three sites appear to have been added to The City’s vaccine website Thursday.

“It’s a bit messy,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, during Thursday’s hearing at the board’s Government Audit and Oversight Committee.

Dr. Naveena Bobba, deputy director with the Department of Public Health, told Haney, “We are working on a centralized system.”

Haney has been one of the most outspoken members of the Board of Supervisors about vaccines, pushing The City to do more to improve its roll out including releasing better data to the public and communicating to residents what’s going on.

Check-in booths line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Check-in booths line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The board committee voted unanimously to send to the full board for a vote next week his legislation requiring The City to develop a plan that would be disclosed to the public on how to vaccinate all residents. The plan would be due within seven days after the law would go into effect.

The legislation also requires increased disclosure of data such as the demographics of those who have been vaccinated and their neighborhoods, as well as rolling data on how many doses of vaccine the Department of Public Health and healthcare providers have received and are administering.

Bobba and Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of the Department of Emergency Management and head of the COVID Command Center, said they are working on all the elements called for in the legislation and didn’t take issue with it.

“We are working very hard to get more data into the system and up and running for the public to see,” Bobba said, although she later said it may take more than seven days to comply with all the data required in the proposal.

Breed and city health officials have said the main obstacle to vaccinating more people is supply, not the logistics of setting up sites or finding staff to administer doses.

Chairs and booths for patients line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Chairs and booths for patients line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

“Our goal is to create a network of vaccination sites to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, especially as the supply increases,” Bobba said. “The chief obstacle that we are facing is currently supply.”

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said that he and his colleagues “have been hearing a massive amount of anxiety, confusion, consternation and upset” around the roll out of the vaccines.

“I have shared that frustration as I have watched our website and communications gradually incorporate new elements that make it more user friendly but haven’t quite gotten there,” Mandelman said.

He said it would go a long way to disclose to the public the amount of vaccine doses being received by DPH and health care providers and how many have been administered, as the proposal calls for. Other counties like San Mateo already provide this level of detail.

“I’ve asked for it before,” he added.

Mandelman who voted for the legislation asked if they could meet its requirements.

“We are already doing most of what’s in this ordinance,” Carroll said. “I feel very comfortable with it.”

Chairs and booths for patients line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Chairs and booths for patients line up at the opening of the COVID-19 mass vaccination site at Moscone Center on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Haney told the San Francisco Examiner after the hearing that board’s attention to the issue “is already getting DPH to make progress, provide more access to more people, and increase transparency.”

“They’re making some progress here and there but still a lot in the legislation they haven’t done yet and need to do,” Haney said. “They said they already have a public plan—that plan was made months ago required by the [California Department of Public Health] and doesn’t include any specificity of sites, or numbers. Of course a lot has changed.”

The state reported 10,501 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 481 deaths. More than 3.9 million doses of vaccines have been administered throughout the state.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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