Relief arrives: Rollout of COVID-19 vaccine begins for parts of Bay Area

The first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in the Bay Area Monday, marking an historic milestone in the pandemic and one many had been hoping for.

"The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is beginning," said Dr. Grant Colfax, head of the San Francisco Public Health Department.

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Monday morning received 2,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

Public health officials call the day historic but warn the moment of hope comes with a caution.

"With limited supply, the vaccine will not save us from this current increase and surge in hospitalizations," said Dr. Colfax.

The vaccinations at SF General will be administered to volunteers Tuesday morning, followed by front line health care providers on Wednesday. 

Dr. Chris Colwell, chief of emergency medicine at SF General said they will stagger the vaccines. 

"They don't want everyone in one department to all get it on the same day. If there are any reaction, we're not taking out all the providers," he said. 

Santa Clara County health officials expect their first COVID-19 vaccine shipment to arrive Tuesday, adding skilled nursing facility workers will get doses Wednesday and hospitals will get the vaccines Friday.

"It will arrive via FedEx and we will get the vaccine in the Public Health Department and also it will be shipped directly to the various hospitals," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, the COVID-19 testing officer for Santa Clara County.

Dr. Fenstersheib says all hospitals in Santa Clara County will be receiving the vaccine including Stanford Health Care.

Stanford expects 3,900 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive Friday and plans to start vaccinating workers Saturday.

"First in line (are) people providing care and service every day to patients. They're nurses, doctors, environmental service workers and clerks," said Lisa Schilling, Vice President of Quality Safety at Stanford Health Care.

Stanford has between 30,000 and 35,000 health care workers total and expects everyone to be vaccinated within the first few months of 2021 if the vaccine availability continues as scheduled.

"People ask a lot of questions, 'When's my turn?' We say you'll know when your turn comes up because you'll be invited to make an appointment. Anyone else, just wait. 'Don't call us, we'll call you' has been our answer," said Schilling.

At Seton Medical Center in Daly City, the director of pharmacy showed KTVU where the 976 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, set to arrive Tuesday, will be kept. 

"We have plenty of storage space," said pharmacy director Sean McElligott. 

The hospital CEO, Tony Armada said first in line to receive the vaccine are those who work with COVID patients including E.R. and ICU nurses and housekeepers. Vaccinations are scheduled starting Thursday. 

"Anybody that's in the room with a patient for a prolonged time or in the unit will receive the first of the doses," Armada said. 

Several counties including Alameda, Marin and Contra Costa County said shipments of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine hadn't arrived as of Monday, but were expected as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Marin County's Health Officer said the first 1,950 doses would be split between hospital workers and skilled nursing facilities.

UCSF expects 975 doses to arrive Wednesday with plans to start vaccinating workers on Thursday.

A hospital spokeswoman says the first batch will go to front-line workers including respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, nurses and doctors.