San Francisco health officials plan for 100 vaccine sites for kids under 12

San Francisco is the second Bay Area county after Marin County to publicize its public health plan for rolling out COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 12, and booster shots for eligible San Franciscans. 

The plan was published online Friday, the same day that Reuters reported that top U.S. health officials expect the Pfizer vaccine to gain FDA emergency use authorization for children ages five to 11 by the end of October.

"There's going to be a lot of flexibility brought in," Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at UCSF said about the plan, which included expertise from UCSF and other top health officials in San Francisco,.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health anticipates nearly 100 places will be available for families to bring their kids for the vaccine when children under 12 become eligible. Officials recommend parents bring their children to private care clinics, pediatricians offices, and local pharmacies if those are available and convenient options. 

They also suggest children consider taking the time to get the COVID-19 vaccine an opportunity to update other vaccines they put off during the pandemic, or get their annual flu vaccine simultaneously with the COVID-19 shot.

Four school-vaccine sites are already operating in neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. They span the Bayview, the Excelsior, the Inner Richmond, and the Sunset districts. Those sites are able to expand to administer 250 vaccines per day when kids under 12 become eligible.

Unlike Marin County, which has already announced vaccination events scheduled at mass-vaccination sites at the end of October and early November, San Francisco has no immediate plans to reopen mass-vaccination sites, for now.

"Demand will basically drive the reopening potentially of these mega-sites," Chin-Hong said. He added that people seeking their booster shots will also be streaming into vaccine sites, but people who are getting their first doses will take priority.

Vaccine demand may not appear particularly high for kids under 12, as the city of San Francisco has one of the smallest populations of children compared to most major cities. Last year, census data found just 13.4 percent of the city's population was under the age of 18. A fraction of that is under the age of 12.

"We're excited, we've been waiting for it!" Mitra Sapienza, a San Francisco mother to ten-year-old Marcello, said.

Nine-year-old Fatima Almossawi of San Francisco looks forward to the day she gets vaccinated.

"I think about it a lot. I'm really excited because I can go to more places and I don't have my mom telling me to put my mask on so much," Almossawi said. 

Even kids who can't stand needles are preparing for the prick, and all that comes with it.

"I feel like once the vaccine comes out, it opens up a whole other possibility of how we socialize, and how we move around and navigate activities, playdates, and sleepovers, which we're not having right now," Christine D'alessandro, a San Francisco mother with a son who is 10, said.

He understands that it's important," D'alessandro said. "He wants to have more freedom, then he has to take it."