San Francisco VA Health Care System
COVID Vaccinations Start at San Francisco VA
The San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS) began vaccinating its frontline health care workers with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 22 following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization for this vaccine.
“The San Francisco VA is eager to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel and community living center residents,” said SFVAHCS Director Bonnie Graham. “Receiving the vaccine is like having hope delivered. As vaccine supplies increase, our ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccination to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.”
Dr. Meshell Johnson, an Intensive Care Unit physician, was the first frontline worker to receive the vaccine on Dec. 22, followed by Community Living Center (CLC) nursing assistant Michael Mapp, and Maria Lee, a restorative care coordinator at the CLC.
Dr. Johnson acknowledges the hesitations from communities of color to receiving the vaccine, but states, “As a physician scientist, I believe in science…and I would not get this vaccine if I did not believe it was safe and effective.”
SFVAHCS is one of 113 VA medical centers across the country to receive the first limited supply of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Sites were identified based on need for the vaccine according to CDC’s 1A prioritization and capacity to store the vaccine at -20◦C.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was 94 percent effective in clinical trials in preventing COVID-19 disease. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart. The side effects appear similar to those of other vaccines and are short-lived.
Thirty-seven medical centers began offering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to health care personnel and Veterans on Dec 14. Fifteen additional VA facilities will receive an allocation of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine the week of Dec. 21.
As vaccines become available for more groups of Veterans, VA care teams will reach out to eligible Veterans to schedule vaccinations. There is no need to preregister or come to a facility to sign up.
While Dr. Johnson hopes that the distribution of vaccines will be the beginning of the end of the pandemic, she stressed that the work is not done. She says, “I encourage everyone to get the vaccine, and to also continue wearing a mask, physically distancing, and washing your hands.”