SAN ANTONIO – A small number of local health clinics are now providing the COVID-19 vaccine to patients in San Antonio.
The two Castle Hills Family Practice locations were some of the first to get the doses. Like pharmacies, the private practices had to go through an enrollment and training process to order the vaccines.
Dr. Hormazd Sanjana said he and his staff got the vaccine themselves. They tracked mild symptoms, determined it a success and said they are thrilled to be offering it to their patients.
“I am proud to give this to my patients. I cater to almost 5,000 to 10,000 patients in the whole of San Antonio area, so I knew sooner or later I wanted to have that vaccine,” Sanjana said.
Sanjana said he had been following updates from the Texas Department of State Health Services and in early December, he began the lengthy application process to offer the vaccine. He was approved and the office received the first shipment on Dec. 23.
“They get the demographics of how many patients or what category do you have and how many people of healthcare worker designation, or how many elderly people do you serve, what locations you have,” Sanjana explained.
According to Sanjana, doctors must keep track of who gets vaccinated and report any side effects through specific government websites.
Offices administering the vaccine also have to prove they have the freezers and capacity to store the doses.
Sanjana said most offices, like his, do not have deep freezers to store the Pfizer vaccine, which mandates storage at minus 70 degrees Celsius.
However, he said he can safely store the Moderna doses, which are required to be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius.
“We received a starting shipment of 500 doses. So far, we’ve given out almost 120 to 150 of them in the last three or four days,” Sanjana said.
He confirmed those shipments came directly from the Texas Department of Health Services after he and his staff underwent necessary training.
“They did provide a lot of help with the help of video meetings and PowerPoint presentations, and live presentations and recorded ones about this whole enrollment process. In addition to that, they continue sending us updates,” Sanjana said.
Castle Hills Family Practice is now vaccinating healthcare and essential workers along with high-risk elderly patients, but Sanjana hopes soon that this will extend to the general public.
He is in regular contact with the Texas Department of State Health Services and will let officials know when he runs out of the does and needs to order more.
Sanjana is encouraging other local providers to apply.
“Those who can safely go through the guidelines of reporting, and maintaining data logging of the temperature of the refrigerator and all those things; To do those things it is not that difficult, but the process is a little time consuming so the sooner you start, the better,” Sanjana said. “There will be help at every level.”
Providers interested in enrolling can visit the DSHS Provider Enrollment website.
The state also has a Vaccine Provider Locator showing a map of all the providers who have been approved to administer the vaccine throughout Texas.