WellMed administering 9,000 doses this week by appointment to residents in south, west San Antonio

Toll-free line receives 170,000+ phone calls for available COVID-19 vaccine doses, officials say

South and West Side vaccination sites overwhelmed by callers
South and West Side vaccination sites overwhelmed by callers

SAN ANTONIO – Unlike the City of San Antonio’s mass vaccination clinic at the Alamodome, which required registration online or by calling 311, two other clinics on the South Side and West Side of San Antonio operated by using a toll-free number.

WellMed -- in partnership with City Council Districts 3, 4 and 7 -- said that the toll-free number (833-968-1745) was quickly jammed as community members attempted to make an appointment.

Rebecca Viagran, who represents District 3, said they received more than 170,000 phone calls from people who wanted one of the 9,000 doses available.

South Side officials partner to deliver COVID-19 vaccine
South Side officials partner to deliver COVID-19 vaccine

The first doses were given Monday at the Elvira Cisneros Senior Community Center, operated by the WellMed Charitable Foundation on Southwest Military Drive and the city’s Alicia Trevino Lopez One-Stop Senior Center on Culebra Road, where WellMed was also involved.

However, on Monday, a WellMed spokesman said that due to “technical issues” that officials found, about 1,800 slots had not actually been filled. Staff members said they would resume calls Tuesday morning. Appointments at the Cisneros site are set to begin at 8 a.m.

Viagran acknowledged there seemed to be a problem with the registration process.

“It’s only because of the technical capacity. It sounds like it’s been overloaded,” Viagran said. “So, it says you’ve been disconnected, but continue to try.”

Viagran said she and her colleagues on the city council, Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia in District 4 and Ana Sandoval in District 7, wanted to “even the playing field” for many of their constituents who are caught in the digital divide.

We know that 60% of the population of San Antonio fits in Phase 1B,” Viagran said. “That’s a lot of people we need to get to. This is a marathon, and we will get through this.”

She said more mass vaccination clinics are in the works.

“We are not just here for a week. We are here for months and months to get all of the people vaccinated,” Viagran said.

Related: Two COVID-19 vaccination sites coming to San Antonio’s South Side, West Side


About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.