Officials say first batch of priority vaccine codes sent to SFUSD for distribution

San Francisco city officials said they have received the first vaccine priority access codes from the state that are designated for teachers. 

The city announced Wednesday that more than 2,600 public school teachers and 1,000 private school teachers will begin receiving special access codes to allow them to make appointments to get vaccinated.

That was after some teachers reported that they were still waiting for the codes that give them priority status for getting a dose of the COVID vaccine. Teachers in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties had already received their codes.

State officials outline how the access codes would be sent in the California vaccination plan for educators. The codes would be sent to individual county Officers of Education first and from there distributed through local school districts and private schools for teachers to sign up. 

But San Francisco does not have a county Office of Education, so the city was unclear on how the codes would be received. That was until the city and state finalized a tailored distribution plan. 

"Bureaucrats messing up the exchange is really a terrible statement on how teachers are being prioritized," said San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney. "When I asked Unified and the Department of Public Health, everyone is going like this (Haney points his fingers as if to blame one another) as far as who has the codes and why they didn't get to the right people," said Haney.

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On Wednesday schools Superintendent Vincent Matthews said, "Until we move to the orange tier, any delays in getting staff vaccinated will result in senseless delays in opening schools."

"I'm gratified. Among people who want to get vaccinated, it's nice to have that opportunity," said Michael Sova, a San Francisco school librarian-teacher.

While San Francisco is in the red tier, teacher vaccination is a prerequisite for reopening schools, according to a deal between the teachers' union and district officials.

The access codes are going out to teachers and staff for pre-kindergarten through second grade and teachers of special needs students. But initially, it applies only to those who work in the first wave of 24 elementary schools that would re-open, once plans are finalized.

"It's a very good step and a lot of educators are going to be relieved because there was a lot of anxiety and worry about getting vaccinated," said school board member Alison Collins.

Educators can use the codes to schedule appointments at Moscone Center and other Bay Area sites.  

The codes give teachers returning to classrooms the opportunity to reserve a vaccine appointment, but all educators can book any open slots. 

School officials hope teachers can begin getting vaccinated no later than Monday.