San Francisco has finalized a plan with state officials to distribute access codes for educators to begin receiving COVID-19 vaccinations, Mayor London Breed said Wednesday.
Teachers and other school staff became eligible for receiving the vaccine a week ago as the city entered Phase 1B of the state's vaccine plan.
On Monday, the city was set to receive 5,000 codes for teachers to make expedited appointments to get the vaccine, but the codes didn't arrive until late Tuesday.
According to Breed, the codes were delayed due to confusion by state officials on where to send them, since the city doesn't have a county office of education.
"We've distributed the first set of codes to the San Francisco Unified School District for distribution to public school educators and support staff, including charter schools that are slated to return to the classroom first," she said.
Breed added that the city's Department of Public Health is working with private and parochial schools to ensure those teachers also have access to the vaccine.
So far, SFUSD has received 2,650 codes for teachers, with this first batch meant to prioritize those returning to the classroom soon, such as elementary school teachers.
Breed has been a staunch advocate for reopening schools, supporting a lawsuit filed by the city attorney last month that seeks a court order to bring students back into classrooms as soon as possible.
"We still need a clear timeline for the district on reopening," she said. "All of our kids need to be back in the classroom safely as soon as possible, and that includes working to get them back five days a week for full days as soon as possible."
Both Board of Education President Gabriela López and SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews called on Breed to improve access to the vaccine in light of the recent delay.
"Up to now, teachers have been scrambling to make appointments at Walgreens and CVS, but without the priority codes, they had to get things done the best way they could," López said. "Many teachers have been taking BART across the bay to the Oakland Coliseum to get a shot. We can do better."
Matthews said the city has had the ability to vaccinate educators for over a week, but "staff are still having trouble getting appointments. As we've repeatedly stated, we need the city to immediately prioritize access for our educators."
United Educators of San Francisco President Susan Solomon decried the slow pace of teacher vaccinations.
"We've been advocating for a clear vaccination plan for educators and school staff for months now," she said. "We continue to watch as other counties, cities and districts work together to streamline the vaccination process and each week continue to see lack of movement here in San Francisco."
Annie Phan, a high school teacher in the city, says educators have received little to no information on vaccinations from San Francisco or the school district.
"I just don’t see the end of the tunnel, it all just feels like we’re going to be kept in the dark for a long time," Phan said.
-Bay City News and MJ Johnson