COVID-19 Science and Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Last updated Nov. 15, 2021

SFUSD strongly encourages anyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated as soon as possible. It is one of the most important ways to keep our schools safe and prevent students from missing school due to having to quarantine as a result of close contact. Students who are vaccinated can also play sports and travel safely after being vaccinated.

Review the following FAQs to learn more.

Can my child get vaccinated?

Anyone 5 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated in San Francisco. At this time only Pfizer is approved for those ages 5 to 17 years of age so be sure the location where you go has Pfizer. People under 18 need permission from a parent or guardian to be vaccinated, except under certain limited circumstances. 

View our FAQs for pediatric vaccines to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

Why shouldn't I wait for the vaccines to be fully approved by the FDA before my children get it?

Waiting to get vaccinated increases the risk of contracting COVD-19, which can sometimes have serious consequence. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 5-17. The FDA has regulatory processes in place to facilitate the development of COVID-19 vaccines that meet the FDA's rigorous scientific standards, which are also applied to the EUA process. More vaccines may be authorized. At this time, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for minors. 

View our FAQs for pediatric vaccines to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

Where can I go to get more information or to make an appointment for a vaccine?

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine in San Francisco from sf.gov/covidvaccine. Visit SFUSD's COVID-19 vaccine webpage sfusd.edu/covidvaccine for a calendar of vaccination events, which vaccines are offered at each site, and latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines.

View our FAQs for pediatric vaccines to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

Will vaccinated people need a booster?

San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) is opening up COVID-19 booster shots to all adults 18 years and older, provided they qualify based on timing of the previous dose of the vaccine. No one should be turned away if they feel they are at risk of COVID-19 and would like to get a booster in advance of the holiday season.

Pfizer and Moderna recipients may receive a booster six months after their second dose in alignment with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance this week to local jurisdictions for patients to self-determine their risk of exposure. Previously, per federal and state guidance only certain categories of higher risk individuals were recommended to receive a booster.

SFDPH also strongly recommends that anyone in a higher risk group–including seniors 65 and older, people with underlying medical conditions, and people who work in high-risk settings–receive a booster as soon as possible. Additionally, all Johnson & Johnson recipients should receive a booster two months after their previous dose, a criterion that remains the same.

SFUSD vaccine sites are offering booster shots to all adults 18 years and older. At this time, please make an appointment. This may change later as supply increases.

For latest information related to COVID-19 vaccines, visit sf.gov/covidvaccine

I have children who are not eligible for vaccines yet. Does that mean they are exposed to additional risks by going back to school?

Data show that the risk of COVID-19 transmission among children at school is extremely low—even before vaccines were available for children or adults. When SFUSD was reopened in Spring 2021, we had zero positive cases that were known to be a result of school-based transmission. All students are encouraged to return unless they have a medical reason not to. More than 90% of San Francisco youth ages 12-17 have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is encouraging since getting  vaccinated is one of the most important ways to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19.  In-person learning provides the best mode of instruction, and SFUSD is implementing mitigation efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. Discuss with your pediatrician if you are concerned about risks associated with COVID-19 transmission.

When will vaccines be available for children under 12?

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and received an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children ages 5-11. SFUSD will continue to work with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, medical experts, and community health partners to make vaccines accessible and available to anyone who is eligible. Pediatric vaccines are being rolled out and are available through your primary healthcare provider, community pharmacies, and vaccine clinics. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or would like to learn more.

View our FAQs for pediatric vaccines to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5-11.

How effective is the Pfizer vaccination against the Delta variant?

Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. According to the CDC, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants. More information can be found at the CDC's website on COVID-19 variants

Can vaccinated people contract and transmit the Delta variant of COVID-19?

Vaccinated people can contract COVID-19 variants, including the delta variant, and pass them to unvaccinated people. However, being vaccinated can reduce the severity of symptoms and risk of hospitalization to prevent deaths due to COVID-19. Up to date information and health directives can be found on the San Francisco Department of Public Health's COVID-19 website

COVID-19 Vaccination Policies

Last updated Nov. 8, 2021

What is the vaccination policy for students?

SFUSD highly encourages anyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated before school starts, and is partnering with healthcare and community providers to make vaccines accessible and free for SFUSD families. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine in San Francisco at sf.gov/covidvaccine. Visit SFUSD's COVID-19 vaccine webpage for a calendar of vaccination events, which vaccines are offered at each site, and the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines. 

What is the vaccination policy for staff and teachers?

SFUSD is requiring all staff to report their vaccination status. The district is actively promoting all eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated and is partnering with healthcare and community providers to make vaccines accessible and free for SFUSD staff and families. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine in San Francisco at sf.gov/covidvaccine. Visit SFUSD's COVID-19 vaccine webpage for a calendar of vaccination events, which vaccines are offered at each site, and the latest updates on COVID-19 vaccines. 

What is the vaccination policy for service providers, including those operating before and after school programs?

SFUSD requires all service providers to be fully vaccinated. Those who qualify for a medical or religious exemption must have a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of the first time entering a school, then weekly thereafter. In addition, all service providers must follow San Francisco Department of Public Health guidelines. Service providers can learn more about these requirements at the MOU information page, and review the vaccination FAQs for service providers for more information.

Now that LAUSD is requiring students to be vaccinated, when will SFUSD approve the same requirement for students?

SFUSD is not mandating students to be vaccinated at this time. 

Where can I request information about the vaccination rates or statistics about testing results for my student's school or classroom?

To protect the privacy and confidential health information of students and staff, SFUSD is unable to share detailed information about vaccination records. SFUSD is planning and implementing health and safety guidelines and enforcing COVID-19 mitigation strategies such as universal masking, improved ventilation, and surveillance testing based on the current public health context whereby children under 5 years old are unvaccinated. 

When will SFUSD implement the statewide vaccination mandate?

The State mandate does not go into effect right away, and it is contingent on the COVID-19 vaccine receiving full FDA approval for anyone who is between ages 5-15. 

Currently, all students attending SFUSD, per California state law, are required to be up to date on immunizations required by the Health and Safety Code and the CA Code of Regulations. 

We will be working closely with the SF Department of Public Health to set up additional systems to verify student vaccination as we await more details from the State.
 

COVID-19 Science

Last updated Nov. 3, 2021

How does the Delta variant spread, and is it safe to return given the increase in reported tramission from the variant?

As with other COVID-19 variants, it spreads primarily through airborne droplets. Though the Delta variant is on the rise, masking and vaccination greatly reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

If I have young children who are not yet able to be vaccinated, can they safely return given the increase in Delta variant transmission?

Yes, particularly with preventive strategies like vaccinations for those 5 years of age and up and continued masking. There is currently no evidence that the Delta variant causes more severe disease or more hospitalizations in children compared to other COVID variants. 

I am concerned about community spread and transmission through schools because I live in an SRO--what are the risks and prevention mechanisms?

Get vaccinated if you are eligible, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, and follow the protocols in the SRO that you live in.

How does COVID-19 spread? When is someone considered contagious?

According to the latest school guidelines published by the SF Department of Public Health, "COVID-19 is mostly spread from person-to-person in the air through virus-containing droplets in the breath of someone with COVID-19." A person with COVID-19 is considered contagious 2 days before their symptoms start until at least 10 days later, fever is gone 24 hours, and symptoms have improved.

If a person with COVID-19 has no symptoms, they are considered contagious 2 days before their positive test until 10 days after the positive test.

If a person who was initially asymptomatic develops symptoms after testing positive, the contagious period should be considered as two days before the test date and is extended to ten days after the onset of symptoms. Visit When Someone Gets Sick for more information.

This page was last updated on March 30, 2022