San Antonio public health authorities, as well as healthcare providers, are trying to clear the air about the amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses currently available locally and who is presently eligible to be vaccinated.
Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is growing while hospitalization rates in the San Antonio area and other major Texas metropolitan regions remain high.
Invoking part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order, San Antonio and Bexar County rolled back capacity for certain businesses and venues to 50% until the local hospitalization rate drops back below 15% for seven straight days.
As of Dec. 29, the Bexar County area had received 50,000 doses of the vaccine, and more than 31,000 county residents have been vaccinated. The remaining 40,000 doses of the initial 90,000-dose allocation for Bexar County is expected to shortly after the new year’s holiday weekend.
According to the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, the focus is on vaccinating Phase 1A populations, including healthcare workers, EMS providers, home health workers, long-term care staff and residents of long-term care facilities. There are an estimated 140,000 people in Phase 1A.
“We are working to balance the need to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, while making sure distribution is focused on priority, high risk and traditionally underserved populations,” Dr. Colleen Bridger, assistant city manager, said in a statement.
“The more people we vaccinate, the more vaccines we’ll receive.”
Subsequent tiers will include people 65 and older, frontline essential workers, and those 16 and older with at least one underlying medical condition that puts them at higher risk of severe complications from this coronavirus.
University Health System, on New Year’s Eve, had set up an online link where people 65 and older and those 18 and over with specific chronic medical conditions could register for a vaccination appointment. Early on New Year’s Day, no more slots were available for this initial round of vaccines through UHS.
On Dec. 30, grocer chain H-E-B announced it has requested another allocation of vaccine from the state, adding that their first round of vaccines is already distributed or scheduled to be given.
According to the company’s statement, many H-E-B Pharmacy locations are working through waitlists for healthcare providers, and that pharmacies will move toward vaccinating high-risk individuals when they receive more allocations.
Methodist Healthcare put out a statement Dec. 30, saying it has received several inquiries from community members about the vaccine.
“For now, we are not yet able to offer the vaccine to the public, but will communicate availability as soon as we are able to do so,” Cheri Love-Moceri, corporate communications director, said.
Federal and state officials estimate it would be late spring or summer when enough of the authorized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines become available for most members of the general public.