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The eligibility for getting a COVID-19 vaccine in San Francisco is now extended to all people above the age of 16. This development is a major milestone, but ensuring that all those who are eligible have access to the vaccine is another collective effort. 

At the forefront of that collective effort are the vaccine sites operated by the Latino Task Force in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and UC San Francisco. This alliance forms Unidos en Salud. They opened the first community vaccine site off 24th and Capp on February 1, 2021. That site continues to operate, but now instead of offering 120 vaccines a day as they did initially they now average 400. 

On a sunny Monday afternoon at the 24th and Capp site the short line is moving smoothly. It’s a contrast from the rush on weekends when more people arrive and music echoes from a speaker at the outdoor waiting area. 

From its earliest days, the site has strived to be a “low barrier” experience. For site manager Jamie Naso, 27, that ideal is a fundamental part of supporting this neighborhood.

“We started as a low barrier site to directly serve a community deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Naso says. “We make appointments in-person because we understand that not everyone has access to technology and it’s important for people to feel some personal support.”

Cecilia Ibarra receives her COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 3 at a neighborhood vaccination center located on the corner of 24th and Capp Streets in the Mission. In partnership with UCSF, the Latino Task Force organized accessible COVID-19 testing and vaccination centers for San Francisco residents. Photo: Benjamin Fanjoy

In addition to offering in-person appointments the site does not require proof of insurance or I.D to make an appointment. 

On April 15 the LTF and DPH opened a new vaccination site to ensure the Mission could be served seven days a week. The latest site, off 18th and Shotwell, will operate in the same way as its sister site off 24th. Both sites offer vaccines to anyone age 16 and over.

“It’s a new site with the same principles,” Naso says. 

Susana Rojas, Executive Director of Calle 24 and the communications chair for LTF, recognizes that the new site is part of a continued and consistent effort.

“It’s been an honor to be able to advocate and bring resources to the community,” Rojas says. “The moment the pandemic started we were already planning and knew we had to be ready to respond.”

In the Excelsior, which has also faced significant impacts due to COVID-19, the LTF and Excelsior Strong opened a vaccine clinic that caters to the neighborhood’s diverse population. There is staff at the 20 Norton St. site that speak Spanish, Cantonese and Tagalog to offer interpretation. Walk-in appointments are available, however due to capacity, aren’t always guaranteed to be the same day. Appointments can be made by calling Excelsior Strong. The Excelsior site accepts anyone age 18 and above. 

Erika Morris receives a shot of the COVID-19 vaccination as San Francisco Mayor London Breed and local health workers look on, at the newly opened vaccine site at the Laborers Local 261 building near 18th and Shotwell, during the opening day of the site, April 15, 2021. Photo: Mabel Jiménez

Securing the site was the result of frequent demands and pressure, much of which was applied by Excelsior Strong. The group is largely composed of longtime locals, and that connection comes through in commitment to uphold neighbors.

Rocio Perez, who is co-leader of the site along with fellow Excelsior Strong member Cristina Centeno, exemplifies that connection as someone who was raised and worked in the Excelsior. 

Before getting involved with Excelsior Strong in April 2020, Perez had worked in education within the neighborhood. In those early days of the pandemic Perez remembers volunteering in efforts that supported the same families she would see in the area’s schools. Now as Excelsior Strong’s health coordinator, she considers it an honor to continue serving the community in a new chapter. 

“I’m constantly seeing families come in who are comforting familiar faces,” Perez says. “A lot of the work we do comes out of love.”

Latino Task Force Vaccine Sites

Mission

24th and Capp

Sunday-Wednesday, 9am-4pm

Walk-in appointments can be made at site, 24th and Mission BART test site or Mission Hub at 701 Alabama St. 

Age 16 and over

18th and Shotwell

Thursday-Saturday, 11am-6pm

Walk-in appointments can be made at site, 24th and Mission BART test site or Mission Hub at 701 Alabama St. 

Age 16 and over. 

Excelsior

20 Norton St

Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday 9:30am-3:30pm

Friday 12-6pm

Walk-in appointments limited, recommended to call at 415-562-8638 or 415-580-0092 or email Excelciorstronginfo@gmail.com 

Age 18 and over.