San Francisco's Mobile Vaccination Unit to Vaccinate up to 1,000 Seniors in Chinatown Senior Living Facilities
The City’s mobile vaccination units ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine for vulnerable populations. Next week, the City will deploy a mobile vaccination team to Chinatown’s largest senior living facility, Ping Yuen, in an effort to boost vaccination rates for San Franciscans 65 and older
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed, the Department of Public Health, and the COVID Command Center (CCC) today announced the City will vaccinate up to 1,000 seniors and eligible community members at Chinatown’s largest affordable family housing facility, Ping Yuen, and other housing facilities in the next two weeks. The two-day event at Ping Yuen on Friday, April 2 and Friday, April 9, is aimed to increase the vaccination rate for seniors in Chinatown and is part of the City’s broader mobile vaccination efforts to reach communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
Since its launch in mid-February, the City’s mobile vaccination program has administered approximately 2,000-3,000 vaccines to residents in the Bayview, Tenderloin, Excelsior, Mission, Chinatown, and Western Addition. DPH and CCC have more than 30 mobile vaccination events planned in the next three weeks and are working closely with community partners to provide referrals for appointments to priority populations.
“From the very beginning, our vaccine distribution has been focused on reaching our communities that have been hit hardest,” says Mayor Breed. “We know that means meeting people where they are and making vaccines not only available, but also easy to access. Our community clinics and mobile vaccination teams are a critical part of that effort.”
San Francisco is 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. San Francisco is implementing strategies to reach the most vulnerable populations where they are, including mobile vaccination teams. In addition to mobile vaccination teams, San Francisco has located high-volume sites and neighborhood vaccine access sites in areas that have carried the burden of the virus.
In partnership with community-based organizations and health care providers, San Francisco’s mobile vaccination teams bring COVID-19 vaccine directly to people and neighborhoods with limited access to healthcare providers or pharmacies. Specifically, the mobile vaccination teams serve homebound adults, senior living facilities, people served by behavioral health programs, and people experiencing homelessness in high-risk congregate living facilities. Recently, the City expanded vaccine eligibility to include people living in SROs, considered high-risk congregate settings. Over the past several months, COVID Command Center and Department of Public Health coordinated a series of mobile vaccination pilot programs to test strategies for reaching SRO residents so that the City can scale up its efforts when increased vaccine supply allows.
San Francisco has made good progress vaccination people 65 and older, with 80% of people 65 and older having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, 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. Nearly 40% of the DPH vaccine allocation has gone to the Asian population compared with 32% of citywide vaccinations, and 25% of the DPH vaccine allocation has gone to the Latinx population compared with 11% of citywide vaccinations.
Additionally, as a result of San Francisco’s efforts to meet people where they are and bring vaccine resources to the neighborhoods that have been hardest-hit by COVID-19, the neighborhoods with the highest vaccination rates for seniors 65 and older are the Bayview Hunters Point, Western Addition, Portola, Mission, and Treasure Island. San Francisco continues to address disparities in vaccination rates. Given that 65% of seniors in Chinatown have been vaccinated, DPH and COVID Command Center are deploying mobile vaccine resources to the Ping Yuen senior living facility and other housing facilities to help address that disparity and increase vaccination rates in Chinatown.
“A legacy of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Department of Public Health has a strong network of community clinics and long-standing relationships with community-based organizations as well as robust integration of care into SROs and other supportive housing,” says Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax. “We’ve been using this mobile care model for many years to serve vulnerable populations and now we are applying these practices to administering the COVID-19 vaccines. I recently had the opportunity to see a mobile vaccination unit in action at NextDoor, a shelter serving people experiencing homelessness, and it was wonderful to see the relief on people’s faces when they got their vaccine.”
Mobile Vaccination Efforts
Yesterday, March 25, the City partnered with GLIDE to administer 100 vaccines as part of a pilot, which will eventually scale up to a bi-weekly event with the goal of administering 1,000 vaccines per week. The event at GLIDE is a partnership with the City, University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, Life Sciences Cares-Bay Area, and San Francisco Community Health Center. The San Francisco Community Health Center is a beneficiary of DPH and San Francisco Public Health Foundation’s $5.28 million grant program to provide culturally responsive services to neighborhoods and populations most impacted by COVID-19 through outreach, linkage to testing and vaccine, contact investigation, and isolation and quarantine services.
Additionally, the City will host a series of mobile vaccination events on Treasure Island for eligible Treasure Island residents on March 27, April 3 and April 10 at Ship Shape Community Center (850 Avenue I) from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The site is primarily by appointment with very limited drop-in capacity. The mobile site is being run by DPH and CCC in partnership with the Fire Department, the Treasure Island Development Authority, and One Treasure Island, with outreach support from the Latino Taskforce.
To serve people with disabilities, the City is partnering with the Mayor’s Office on Disability and other community partners on several mobile vaccination events. This Saturday, March 27 and Sunday, March 28 the University of the Pacific Dental School will vaccinate 300 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Starting Friday, April 2, and recurring for four to six weeks, Lighthouse for the Blind will administer 200 doses a day to people with disabilities. The City has set up a call center to help people with disabilities who are unable to easily access the internet or schedule an appointment through their provider access appointments. The number is (628) 652-2700.
The goal of the City’s vaccination strategy is to make receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as convenient and comfortable for as many people as possible, particularly in those neighborhoods disproportionately affected by the pandemic. In partnership with the healthcare providers in San Francisco, 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.
San Francisco now has the capacity to vaccinate 20,000 people per day, double the original target to vaccinate 10,000 daily. Despite this significant capacity, supply constraints continue to limit the City from operating at full capacity and is the biggest barrier to vaccinating people as quickly as possible.
People who are eligible to be vaccinated can sign-up for an appointment at: SF.gov/getvaccinated.
“Vaccine availability and accessibility has been challenging for Chinatown given our high volume of seniors, frontline workers, transit users and overcrowded families living in SROs. We welcome this place-based vax for Ping Yuen’s seniors—bringing it to public housing and, hopefully, SRO’s will significantly amplify the effort to get our San Francisco communities protected against COVID,” stated Malcolm Yeung, Executive Director of the Chinatown Community Development Center.
“Today marks an incredible milestone in our COVID-19 response efforts,” stated San Francisco Community Health Center CEO Lance Toma. “We are proud to work with so many partner organizations on our City’s mobile vaccination efforts in the Tenderloin. We will work nonstop to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are vaccinated ASAP. We will train and work with a cadre of community ambassadors to eliminate as many barriers to ensure vaccine access is as easy as possible.”
“Life Science Cares, a nonprofit funded by companies in the biotech and life science industry in the Bay Area, is pleased to support this cross-sector coalition to make it as easy as possible for those living in the Tenderloin to receive the COVID vaccine,” said Lynn Seely, MD, a member of the Life Science Cares-Bay Area Board of Managers.
“Today marks an incredible milestone in our COVID-19 response efforts,” said Lance Toma, CEO of San Francisco Community Health Center. “We are proud to work with so many partner organizations on our City’s mobile vaccination efforts in the Tenderloin. We will work nonstop to ensure that our most vulnerable residents are vaccinated ASAP. We will train and work with a cadre of community ambassadors to eliminate as many barriers to ensure vaccine access is as easy as possible.”
“We know that the vaccine equity is one of the most urgent issues facing us right now. We know that people experiencing homelessness want the opportunity to be vaccinated, but need vaccines to be accessible. The UCSF BHHI is thrilled to take part in an amazing partnership to bring vaccines to where people are, guided by those with lived expertise of homelessness,” says Margot Kushel, MD. Professor of Medicine at UCSF and director of UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative.
“There are significant challenges in providing access to COVID vaccinations to the housed and unhoused residents of the Tenderloin. Bringing a weekly neighborhood vaccination site to the Tenderloin is an absolute accomplishment. GLIDE is tremendously proud of our partnership with the SFDPH, UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, Life Sciences Cares-Bay Area, and San Francisco Community Health Center. Together we are reducing barriers to vaccine access and serving some of the most marginalized people in the City,” said GLIDE President and CEO Karen Hanrahan.