SAN ANTONIO – COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the Latino population in San Antonio, with data suggesting that districts with the highest Latino populations — Districts 3, 4 and 5 — are among the hardest hit.
But as the vaccine continues to roll out in San Antonio and in Bexar County, which populations are receiving the vaccine?
As of Thursday, the Department of State Health Services Vaccine Dashboard indicates only about 16% of those vaccinated in Bexar County are Hispanic, with about 50% of vaccine recipients marked as “unknown.”
A DSHS spokesman said many providers in Bexar County and around the state are not reporting race/ethnicity data, resulting in a large percentage of recipients falling in the “unknown” race category, but beginning Thursday, providers will be required to submit this information.
The San Antonio City Councilwomen who represent the hardest hit districts — Rebecca Viagran of District 3, Dr. Adriana Rocha-Garcia of District 4, and Shirley Gonzales of District 5 — say major efforts have been underway to help provide for a more equitable distribution.
“The highest cases of COVID deaths, unfortunately have been in the Hispanic population,” said Dr. Rocha-Garcia. “So we need to make sure we continue addressing that population and vaccinating them as soon as possible.”
All three councilwomen cite efforts such as robocalls, sending postcards, and advocating for call-in vaccine sign-ups have been helpful in educating and vaccinating people in their districts.
“That is why we wanted to put something on the South Side, because we knew that location made a difference,” said Councilwoman Viagran.
Early data shows those efforts appear to be working.
Metro Health released new data on Thursday, which shows 52% of those who received their vaccinations at the mass vaccination sites are Latino.
“We still have a long way to go,” said Councilwoman Gonzales. “Our city is really ahead of other cities in getting those vaccines out and into the arms of people.”
All three councilwomen say they are advocating for their districts in strategic ways, but recognize barrier, in addition to getting more vaccine, make the task a challenge.
“There are significant gaps in and significant disparities that exist in our race and ethnic groups that we need to address as a city, as a nation, and as a state,” Councilwoman Viagran said.