Colfax: SF General gets first 2K COVID-19 vaccine doses

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday received 2,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration...

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Monday received 2,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration authorized for use last week, a top health official said.

Dr. Grant Colfax, head of the Department of Public Health, told reporters during a virtual press conference that the vaccines were received Monday morning, as cities across the nation are also receiving their first batches.

“Obviously it’s incredibly important that we vaccinate people as quickly as possible,” Colfax said. “We will be keeping the public updated on progress in that regard.”

It was not clear if anyone had yet been administered the vaccine. Healthcare workers and those in nursing homes are to receive the first doses under state guidelines.

San Francisco General was one of four locations in California Monday to receive a combined 33,150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine as part of the drug company’s initial commitment to provide a total of 327,600 doses to the state, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The vaccine deliveries come as San Francisco and the state are experiencing the worst surge of the pandemic so far with patients quickly filling up hospital beds.

“This is a big day,” said Newsom, who traveled Monday to Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center, where some of the first vaccines were administered. “This is a day to celebrate. But again, it’s a day to be mindful about the challenge we face.”

In addition to San Francisco and Los Angeles, a facility in San Diego received doses, and so did St. Joseph’s Hospital in Eureka, Newsom said.

On Tuesday, 24 additional sites are expected to receive doses of the vaccine and on Wednesday, another five, he said.

Newsom said he expected California to receive a total of 2.1 to 2.16 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year while noting there are 2.4 million healthcare workers in the state.

He expects batches of the Moderna vaccine to begin arriving as early as within a week, with an initial commitment of 672,600.

San Francisco is expecting to receive 13 boxes, or 12,675 doses, of the Pfizer vaccine this week, according to a report to the Health Commission. Health officials have said they would be distributed among the acute care hospitals in San Francisco.

In the future Kaiser, Sutter, Dignity and University of California hospitals are expected to receive allocations directly from the California Department of Public Health.

The City is also expected to receive 60 boxes, or 6,000 doses, of the Moderna vaccine, some time between Dec. 23 and Dec. 28.

Colfax said that the vaccine is not going to help reduce the current surge because it will take time to roll it out to many people. He previously said widespread distribution of the vaccine is not expected until spring or summer.

“Let’s give thanks for the lifesaving vaccine that is on the way,” Colfax said. “But I cannot emphasize enough that we must still remain vigilant. With limited supply, the vaccine will not save us from this current increase and surge in hospitalizations.”

Earlier this month, San Francisco and other Bay Area counties voluntarily imposed the state’s regional stay-at-home order tied to intensive care unit hospital bed capacity to slow the spread of the virus.

Intensive care unit bed capacity in the Bay Area has decreased from 26 percent to 17 percent in under a week, Colfax said. In San Francisco alone, there are 148 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and 37 in intensive care units. There are an estimated 2,897 diagnosed active cases of COVID-19 in San Francisco.

In California, there were 33,278 newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the past day with an average now of 31,000 new cases per day, while the positivity rate has soared to 10.6 percent when just six weeks ago it was 3.5 percent. On average, 159 people have died from COVID-19 per day in the past week, Newsom said.

Colfax said he hopes the shutdown will help to slow the spread, or else San Francisco’s hospitals could run out of intensive care unit beds within weeks.

“For the last week, we have averaged over 200 new people testing positive for the virus each day,” Colfax said. “Our hope this week is that cases stabilize, but we do not know for sure that that will happen.”

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