Seniors may be eligible for vaccination, but it doesn’t mean doses are available in Bexar County

Metro Health Director says about 60% of county falls in Phase 1B

SAN ANTONIO – Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is far outpacing supply in Bexar County, even as a majority of the region is already be eligible to be vaccinated.

The top priority groups for vaccination in Phase 1A, which includes health care workers and nursing home residents, are still far from being fully covered, even as the state has opened up vaccination for Phase 1B.

Phase 1B includes people 65 years and older and people 16 years or older with at least one chronic medical condition.

About 60% of the Bexar County population is estimated to fall into that second group, said Colleen Bridger, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s interim director and the city’s pandemic incident commander.

“The biggest challenge that we have right now is we don’t have enough vaccine to vaccinate everybody who wants to be vaccinated today,” Bridger said.

So even though they may be eligible to receive the vaccine, many seniors and people with chronic medical conditions could have a hard time finding a place to get vaccinated.

Vaccine shipments are being distributed directly to hospitals, pharmacies, and other providers, rather than going through Metro Health. The latest state data, as of Tuesday evening, shows 73,050 doses have been distributed so far in the county -- about half as much as the amount needed to vaccinate the estimated 144,852 health care workers and long-term care residents in the county.

And while the state data, which lags behind the actual situation on the ground, shows 31,026 of the 73,050 doses have been administered in Bexar County, that doesn’t meant the rest are up for grabs.

  • University Health, for instance, has just begun the process of administering 17,310 doses to people in Phase 1B at a mass vaccination clinic. Though the hospital system will need more than a week to administer all of the shots, a spokeswoman said all of the appointments were scheduled within five hours of the signups going live. University Health is advising patients not to show up at the vaccination site, as each person must be prescheduled.
  • H-E-B, which had dozens of Bexar County pharmacies receive vaccine shipments, posted an update Sunday stating its pharmacies had either already administered or scheduled the doses received so far. The company says it is “awaiting another allocation of vaccine from the state of Texas so we can continue to vaccinate healthcare providers as well as begin offering vaccine to those in Phase 1B.”
  • A Methodist Healthcare System spokeswoman said Tuesday that Methodist was “actively administering the vaccine to over 12,000 Methodist Healthcare staff members and providers” and would soon begin offering it to health care workers in the wider community and vaccinating patients in its facilities that meet state criteria. The spokeswoman made no mention of open signups for vaccines.
  • CHRISTUS Santa Rosa says it is working to turn the process for vaccinating people in Phase 1B over to select clinics and outpatient locations. As of Monday, all its appointments were full, though the health system says it may have additional appointments available as early as mid-week.

Even if there were 2 million doses in the city already, it would still take months to vaccinate everyone, Bridger said.

“But we absolutely will have enough vaccine for everybody,” Bridger said. “And so people don’t need to worry that they might miss their one opportunity. There will be many, many more opportunities for people to get vaccinated against it.”

About the Authors

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.

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