SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – When the COVID-19 vaccine became available earlier this year, a San Francisco doctor realized many of his patients could be left out. This week's Jefferson Award winner worked with officials to open his own vaccination site.
Internist Dr. Hans Yu was concerned that many of his elderly patients would not be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine because their limited English-speaking skills aren't enough to make an appointment online.
"It's not just the language barrier, even any senior, it's difficult with this technology. So we said, 'There's got to be a better way,'" Yu told KPIX 5.
Yu and a dozen staff members worked with the county health department to set up a licensed vaccination clinic in February at a rented office on Noriega Street a block from his Grace Pacific Medical practice.
The medical team phoned his mostly Chinese-speaking patients to come in.
So far, the clinic has given more than 10,000 shots of hope to folks like 88-year-old Carson Woo and his 85-year-old wife, Lillian Woo.
They can't wait to visit again with their kids and grandkids.
"We're extremely happy. We've been waiting for a long time," said Carson Woo.
For 65-year-old Melvin Jay, who has a disability, the vaccination clinic was convenient, since mass vaccination appointments were not an option for him.
"So I couldn't wait in line for two hours, three hours. I can't sit around on the computer for hours," Jay explained.
Yu's clinic administers more than 200 shots a day, six days a week, mostly for seniors but for neighborhood restaurant workers and educators as well.
The 40-plus members of the vaccination clinic team includes volunteers from the independent community physicians group, All American Medical Group, nursing students, and staff like medical records officer Vince Lau, who all work together to save lives.
"To actually see people having some kind of good news to look forward to, having something to give them hope, and then, to be a part of that, is amazing," said Lau.
Ten vaccine recipients were more than 100 years old.
The oldest person vaccinated as part of the program is a 105-year-old man, Yu noted.
He and his team also bring the vaccine to the elderly outside the clinic, at senior centers like Self Help for the Elderly in Chinatown.
Soon, the plan is to do house calls, to vaccinate homebound senior citizens.
Yu said he's had nearly 50 patients who have had coronavirus; two of them have died.
But at the vaccination site, he enjoys giving people hope, and making them happy.
"You don't see the face now, only the eyes now, right? But you can see the eyes of appreciation, eyes of relief," said Yu.
For starting a vaccination program to make sure no one gets left out, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Dr. Hans Yu.
Note: To make an appointment with Grace Pacific Medical for the COVID-19 vaccine, email: email@example.com or call 415-759-3777.
While the vaccination program does not take financial contributions, it does accept donations of latex-free gloves.
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