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SF Expands Vaccines to All Adults w/ Underlying Conditions (March 15)

Starting Monday, SF expands eligibility for the COIVD vaccine to those 16-64 with disabilities, underlying conditions, homeless and the incarcerated
By - posted 3/12/2021 No Comment

San Francisco to Expand COVID-19 Vaccinations to People with Disabilities and Severe Underlying Conditions and those in High-Risk Congregate Settings on March 15

Friday, March 12, 2021

This expansion of eligibility in accordance with the State’s prioritization plan comes as 27% of San Franciscans have received at least one dose of vaccine—a number that exceeds the state and federal percentages—demonstrating that the City is reaching eligible populations

Starting on Monday, March 15, 2021, in accordance with the State’s prioritization plan, San Francisco will begin vaccinating people ages 16-64 with disabilities or with qualifying health conditions considered to put them at high risk for contracting or dying from COVID-19. Additionally, under the State guidance, the City will vaccinate individuals who live or work in a high-risk congregate care facility including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and other congregate residential care and treatment facilities.

This will include all people experiencing homelessness, who could transition into congregate settings at a short notice.

See the full press release

Despite this expanded eligibility, vaccine doses remain in short supply, and healthcare providers have been advised to prioritize second doses in the coming weeks. As such, appointments for first vaccine doses are limited, and people who are eligible may not be able to get appointments right away.

Phase 1C: (Starting Monday, March 15)

Anyone with underlying health conditions, including:
Cancer (active)
Alcohol or substance use disorders
Chronic kidney disease
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
Heart disease (coronary artery disease)
Heart failure
Down syndrome
Immune compromise and HIV
Use of supplemental oxygen
Organ transplant
Sickle cell disease
Needs caregiver to help with daily activities
People that are enrolled or have been enrolled in the Regional Center
Severe mental illness
Any other disability

See the full list

San Francisco expands eligibility of 1C from the State Definition
Recognizing that defining eligibility based on specific qualifying health conditions may exclude individuals who are not currently receiving medical care or may create burdensome documentation requirements that would impact under-resourced clinics and communities, San Francisco is adopting eligibility criteria that expand on the California Department of Public Health’s listed conditions and ensure low-barrier access to vaccines.

Whereas the State more narrowly defines qualifying conditions, San Francisco will broaden the categories for cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic pulmonary disease, obesity, and diabetes. Additionally, San Francisco will augment the conditions under the immunocompromised category, so that people living with HIV are included. Other eligible underlying health conditions include Down syndrome, pregnancy, and sickle cell disease.

Roughly 10% of San Francisco’s population identifies as Deaf or disabled, and in order to better serve this diverse population, the City will expand the State’s category for disabilities to include developmental, medical, physical, sensory, or behavioral health disabilities, including severe mental health and/or substance use disorders.

To ensure low-barrier access to vaccines, San Francisco will not require vaccination sites that do not have access to patients’ medical records to require proof of diagnosis and/or disability. Instead, patients may be asked to provide a self-attestation of their qualifying condition.

Jails/Homeless Shelters Now Eligible
Congregate settings such as jails, homeless shelters, and behavioral health facilities, which house large concentrations of individuals with chronic health conditions, are considered high-risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. In anticipation of the State’s authorization to proceed with vaccinating people living in congregate settings and who are not able to easily access vaccination sites, the COVID Command Center and Department of Public Health coordinated a series of mobile vaccination pilot programs to test strategies for reaching this population, as well as to begin vaccinating these communities. These pilots will help the City scale up its efforts to reach eligible people when increased vaccine supply allows. The Department of Public Health will also work closely with organizations serving people experiencing homelessness and with disabilities to reach these communities.

People eligible to receive the vaccine on March 15 have multiple options for accessing the vaccine. They can ask their normal healthcare provider or book an appointment at one of the City’s public sites listed at SF.gov/getvaccinated. Most walk-thru sites have drop-off zones and have wheelchair accommodations available onsite. Our City-operated high volume sites (Moscone Center, SF Market, City College) have video remote ASL interpreting capacity as well. Individuals are encouraged to visit SF.gov/getvaccinated prior to their appointment for the most current accessibility and transportation information.

Free Muni to Vaccine Appointments
Muni and Paratransit are free for anyone traveling to and from COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is also providing additional access to taxi service for those using the Essential Trip Card. Information can be found at sfmta.com/COVID and sfmta.com/Paratransit. In order to assist individuals with accessing appointments, the City has set up a call center to help people who are 65 and older and those with disabilities who are unable to easily access the internet or schedule an appointment through their provider. Individuals may call to learn about vaccine options and receive assistance in booking an appointment to some locations. The number is (628) 652-2700.

In addition to expanding vaccine eligibility to people with disabilities and severe underlying conditions, San Francisco healthcare providers and the Department of Public Health continue to vaccinate people in Phase 1B, people 65 and older, and healthcare workers. To date, San Francisco has made the vaccine available to all healthcare workers in Phase 1A and 70% percent of San Franciscans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

In partnership with the healthcare providers in San Francisco, which are receiving the majority of the vaccine doses from the State, the City is facilitating the quick and efficient delivery of vaccines through high-volume vaccine sites, neighborhood vaccine access sites, community clinics, pharmacy partnerships, and mobile vaccination teams. This week, the high-volume site at Moscone Center reached a milestone of 100,000 doses administered. This network of COVID-19 vaccination sites in San Francisco provides the capacity to vaccinate at least 10,000 people per day, pending supply.

The insufficient and inconsistent supply of COVID-19 vaccine continues to be the biggest barrier for vaccinating people quickly in San Francisco. The increase in second-dose appointments puts additional strain on San Francisco’s COVID-19 vaccination network. As more people become eligible for their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and supply does not increase significantly, healthcare providers are unable to offer as many first-dose appointments.

Over the last week, an average of more than 5,000 vaccine doses a day has been administered in San Francisco. Although this rate of vaccinations is lower than what San Francisco is capable of, healthcare providers and DPH are still making good progress, with 27% of San Franciscans 16 and older having received their first dose, and are ready to ramp up vaccinations as supply increases and becomes more predictable.

San Francisco also remains committed to an equitable vaccination strategy, with a specific focus on reaching populations that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. To that end, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has been focused on reaching communities that have been hard-hit by the pandemic, including the Latino community and neighborhoods in the Southeast of the city. San Francisco has located high-volume sites and neighborhood vaccine access sites in areas that have carried the burden of the virus, and is implementing other strategies to reach the most vulnerable populations where they are, including mobile vaccination teams.

The vaccine dashboard shows DPH-controlled vaccine distribution, including by age and race/ethnicity and by neighborhood. The dashboard shows that DPH’s focus on racial equity in vaccine distribution has been successful. A higher proportion of the DPH-administered vaccinations have gone to people of color than the total citywide vaccinations. For example, the Latino population represents 14% of the City’s overall population and has received more than 20% of DPH’s vaccinations compared with 10% citywide. The dashboard also shows that the top three neighborhoods receiving the largest amount of DPH-controlled vaccines are the Bayview, Mission and Excelsior.

Sign up to get notified when it’s your turn
Anyone who works or lives in San Francisco can sign up for a notification when they are eligible for vaccination at SF.gov/vaccinenotify. The City will continue to provide regular updates to the public about the vaccine in San Francisco at: SF.gov/covidvaccine.