Mass vaccination sites 'likely coming back' to the Bay Area to give out COVID-19 booster shots

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Coronavirus booster shots will soon be available at doctor's offices and healthcare systems across the Bay Area starting September 20.

Federal health officials announced Wednesday the booster shots will be administered to all eligible Americans at least eight months after their second dose, but healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff will be prioritized.

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"So if you got vaccinated in January you will be eligible in September," said UCSF's Dr. George Rutherford.

Rutherford says reopening large-scale vaccination sites will be necessary once the general public is next in line.

"It's just the way it's going to have to happen," he said.

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Health officers across the Bay Area are awaiting formal guidance on distribution plans from the state, but most have indicated it will mirror the initial rollout. For example, San Mateo County says their plan will likely include mass vaccination sites. Whereas, San Francisco County is hoping to avoid reopening mass sites in the beginning of the rollout.

"As of now we don't need to do any additional mass vaccination sites because a lot of that will happen through health systems," said San Francisco Health Officer Dr. Susan Philip.

"So if you're in group 1 in San Francisco, you would contact your doctor or healthcare system indicating you're eligible?" ABC7's Stephanie Sierra asked.

"Yes, I have one of the conditions that has been listed as being eligible and getting it there," said Philip. "It really will be them either working directly with their doctor, provider, health system, or hospital."

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Dr. Philip says instead of mass vaccination sites, pharmacies and health clinics will likely be on the list of providers distributing the first round of boosters. But, Mike Wasserman, who served on the state's Vaccine Advisory Committee is concerned about that.

"I think it would be a huge mistake to even consider going back to CVS and Walgreens," Wasserman said. "I think what we really need to do is to facilitate making the vaccine readily available to the long-term care pharmacies."

As for how vaccinations will be verified?

"Those details have yet to be fully worked out. But, I think having your card with you will help a lot to skip through a lot of the steps of the registry," said Rutherford.


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