by Daphne Young
In an effort to reach more students of color, the San Francisco Department of Public is refocusing its COVID-19 outreach in Black and Brown communities. This week, SFDPH released new data that points to the city’s urgent need to provide more support for children of color who live in highly impacted neighborhoods.
“Over the past several months since the COVID-19 vaccine became available for children ages 5-11, we have been watching uptake across our many communities in the city,” said Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax.
“The data is showing disparities among race and ethnic groups, especially within communities of color, that implore us to work with our community partners to address the many issues around barriers to access, distrust, education and other factors that may be at play. We are listening to the needs of the community and working on tailoring solutions to bridge these gaps so that all children in San Francisco can receive the best defense against the virus.”
So now, SFDPH is hosting pop-up clinics at school sites in collaboration with the San Francisco Unified School District. SFDPH-affiliated vaccination sites will offer drop-in and walk-up options for vaccinations.
Black and African American children ages 5-11 have the lowest rates of vaccinations.
One of those SFUSD school sites is Bret Hart Elementary School in the Bayview, where COVID vaccination clinics will be offered each Friday starting Feb. 25 from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Meanwhile, Rosa Parks Elementary School in the Western Addition will also host clinics on Mondays, beginning Monday, Feb. 28, from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Additional schools are being identified for short-term pop-up vaccination sites in the near future.
Overall, 65 percent of San Francisco children ages 5-11 have reached full vaccination, far exceeding state and national averages. But data shows widening racial and ethnic disparities among this age group.
Black and African American children ages 5-11 have the lowest rates of vaccinations. According to new SFDPH data, vaccination rates for this group is only 29 percent.
Meanwhile, American Indian and Alaska Native children ages 5-11 are 22 percent vaccinated, and Pacific Islander children are 44 percent vaccinated. Rates among Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander children are 34 percent, while Hispanic or Latinx children are 48 percent vaccinated.
SF vaccination rate in children ages 5-11 by race and ethnicity
|American Indian or Alaska Native||22%|
|Black or African American||29%|
|Hispanic or Latino/a/x, all races||48%|
|Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander||34%|
Data from the San Francisco Public Health Department.
Teens in San Francisco tend to be doing somewhat better than their younger counterparts. Black and African American students ages 12-17 are 52 percent fully vaccinated – but overall rates among 12-17-year-olds in San Francisco is more than 90 percent.
“While COVID-19 transmission rates remain low among youth and children, we know that vaccines remain one of the most important ways to prevent the worst symptoms of the virus,” SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews said.
“SFUSD is committed to increasing rates among children and we are grateful to continue to offer our school sites and direct outreach to families as a resource,” added Matthews.
The San Francisco Unified School District along with SFDPH is also working with community partners to find other, creative and meaningful ways to reach families in the coming weeks and months.
“At Rafiki, we have worked closely with SFDPH and have reached many families with vaccinations, but more efforts are necessary to overcome barriers to access and build trust within communities of color,” said Dr. Monique LeSarre, executive director of Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness.
“Working with the Dream Keeper Initiative, we hope to incentivize Black youth and their families by organizing family-focused pop-up vaccine clinics in San Francisco’s Black neighborhoods. We are also providing much-needed food at vaccine sites so that we can deliver other needed resources to our families, who are still very much impacted by the pandemic.”
Horizons Unlimited and Galeria de la Raza are partnering on a youth-led community education campaign, “I Am an Influencer,” to promote vaccines and boosters among youth peers and parents.
“We are elevating our young people and the role they have in influencing their peers to help close the equity gap in vaccinations for children in San Francisco,” said Horizons Unlimited Executive Director Celina Lucero.
“Our campaign highlights and lifts our cultural values and messages of collective responsibility and trust as foundational principles for action. Our campaign is meant to amplify youth voices and affirm and celebrate their agency and power.”
urgent need to follow similar low-barrier approaches and engagement strategies to improve vaccine uptake among children
By contrast, vaccination rates among San Francisco adults have been exceedingly successful across race and ethnic groups following the city’s targeted outreach to highly impacted communities in partnership with community organizations. The city’s success among adults points to the urgent need to follow similar low-barrier approaches and engagement strategies to improve vaccine uptake among children in many of those same communities.
As the City of San Francisco moves out of the most recent surge in cases and into a new phase of living with the virus, SFDPH says their strategy is to continue to develop approaches that further empower families with information on and access to vaccines. In collaboration with community partners, SFDPH plans to further reduce barriers to vaccines and to prioritize the needs of highly impacted communities.
As San Francisco moves into a new stage of the pandemic and begins to lift many of the restrictions that have been in place as protective layers, such as indoor masking, SFDPH says it recognizes the need to support individuals and families in highly impacted communities with the resources needed to best protect themselves against the virus.
Parents keep in mind, COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. But, for children ages 5-11 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, consent by the parent or guardian is required.
However, it is possible for someone other than a parent or guardian to bring a child into a clinic for a vaccination. More information can be found here: sf.gov/information/under-18-permission-covid-19-vaccine.
Where to get a vaccination
For a list of locations in San Francisco to receive a vaccination or booster, go to: sf.gov/get-vaccinated-against-covid-19.
For more information from the Department of Public Health in the
Daphne Young is the Education Reporter at the San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper. The Chicago native is an award-winning journalist who’s covered news for radio and TV stations around the country. She attended San Francisco State University and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. If you have an education story that you’d like to see the Bay View cover, please contact Daphne by email: email@example.com.