WellMed vaccination hotline re-opens Saturday with 9,000 slots available

Goal is to reduce wait times and increase number of vaccinations

SAN ANTONIOFeb. 3 Update:

On Wednesday, a WellMed official said that all available doses at the city’s two WellMed-run clinics in San Antonio are reserved.

The telephone registration hotline is now responding to callers with a recorded message stating that all slots are full.

No walk-ins will be accepted to either the Cisneros or Lopez Senior Centers.

WellMed will make a public announcement about reopening the hotline when they receive more vaccine doses.

Original Story:

The vaccination hotline went live again Saturday morning with people anxious to get their name on WellMed’s list.

The goal, according to Dr. Michael Almaleh, one of the leaders in WellMed’s COVID-19 response, is to reduce the wait time to get through to an operator.

“We have up to 120 operators that have been trained to answer our phones (answering) to anywhere up to 60 people in a given time,” Almaleh said. “We’re expanding that (number) quickly, doing everything we can to get through the large numbers of phone calls that we’re receiving.”

Wait times for callers can range from three to up to 15 minutes, with some struggling to even make a connection. Health officials said it all depends on who is on the other line wanting to register.

“We’re allowing an individual person to register two people in their household who are eligible for vaccination,” Almaleh said. “In addition to that, we’re also allowing individuals who call to register their parents who are over the age of 65 and may not be able to make that phone call for themselves.”

Currently health care workers on the frontlines, those over the age of 65 and individuals 18 to 64 years of age with chronic health conditions, are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

“Please be honest,” Almaleh said. “Worry about your neighbor.”

Almaleh and the WellMed staff ask the public who is able to sign up, to be considerate and show up to the first and second appointment required for the Moderna vaccine.

“It really does make it very difficult for us when someone doesn’t show up,” Almaleh said. “We have to scramble to find someone to give that dose to, and we’re not taking people off of the street because that creates crowds and frenzies. (It) does the exact opposite of what we want to do.”

Those helping administer the vaccines at both the Cisneros or Treviño López Senior Centers say they’re at the mercy of the state, and are hopeful they’ll continue to receive thousands of doses weekly to safely vaccinate as many people as possible.

The phone number for the hotline is 833-968-1745, and operators will accept calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., beginning Jan. 30 and every day until all reservations are booked.

Once connected over the phone, people have the option to reserve their appointment at either the Elvira Cisneros Senior Community Activity Center or the Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior One-Stop Center.

RELATED: How to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in San Antonio when appointments are available

About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.