San Francisco ramping up COVID-19 vaccine distribution, accepting out-of-county patients

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is well underway in San Francisco, city officials announced Tuesday. It's a glimmer of hope amid a still worsening winter surge.

So far, 90% of the residents at Laguna Honda skilled nursing facility have already received the first dose, said Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax. By Wednesday, that process should be complete, Mayor London Breed said. Laguna Honda was an epicenter of the Bay Area's coronavirus crisis early on in the pandemic.

"Each one of these people in Laguna Honda being vaccinated is someone who will continue to have birthdays with families and visits with friends," said Mayor Breed. "They will have more time. They will have months and years ahead that so many across this country sadly have lost to this virus."

Additionally, most frontline staff at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Laguna Honda have also received their first doses, said Colfax, and nearly all paramedics and EMTs have been offered the vaccine.

Because the vaccine allocation is primarily handled by the federal and state governments, and shipments are sent directly to health care providers, Colfax said it's not possible to determine exactly how many people in the city have been vaccinated so far.

VIDEO: Mayor London Breed discusses vaccine rollout at Laguna Honda
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Every person who's been vaccinated "is someone who will continue to have birthdays with families and visits with friends," said Mayor Breed.

Colfax was able to share that the Department of Public Health, which acts as a health care provider to many in the city who are on Medicaid or are uninsured, has vaccinated roughly 6,000 people. UCSF is able to administer about 1,100 doses a day, a hospital representative said.

Once the city completes Phase 1A of vaccinations, which includes health care workers and nursing home residents, it will follow the state's guidance on moving into Phase 1B.

MORE: Who will get the COVID-19 vaccine next in California? Here's who's included in phases 1A, 1B and 1C

While the vaccination progress is welcome news, it comes too little too late in helping fight San Francisco's winter COVID-19 surge.

"The great news is that the vaccine is here and it has been administered every day," said Colfax. "But it will not have much of an impact on our current surge, or any post-December holiday surge we may experience in the coming weeks."

Last week, San Francisco extended its stay-at-home order and travel quarantine rules indefinitely as intensive care capacity remains relatively low. About 35% of ICU beds in the city are still open, Colfax said, but things are so bad in other parts of the state that patients are being transported in.

"While we have care available and people need care, it's the moral, ethical, right thing to do to provide that care when asked and when needed," he said.

RELATED: SF extends stay-at-home order indefinitely. Will the rest of the Bay Area follow?

Officials fear we still haven't yet reached the peak of the winter surge, and may soon start to see the full effect of holiday gatherings.

San Francisco is recording about 237 new COVID-19 cases daily.

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