Success of pop-up vaccine sites in SA neighborhoods has Metro Health setting up more locations

Community finds smaller sites in their neighborhoods less intimidating, more personal

Getting San Antonio back to normal has been the goal for those administering COVID-19 vaccines since the very beginning.

SAN ANTONIO – Getting San Antonio back to normal has been the goal for those administering COVID-19 vaccines since the very beginning.

In addition to mega vaccine sites like the Alamodome, Metro Health started facilitating pop-up sites all over the city in February.

Those small pop-up sites have been so successful, the effort has now ramped up significantly.

“I find that it’s very convenient. It’s a lot easier,” said Maria Cortes. She was dropping her granddaughter off Tuesday at the Union Park Apartment Complex on South Hackberry on the East side, when she saw the UT Health vaccine mobile unit and team that works in tandem with Metro Health.

“We’ve been trying to get the vaccine, but it’s been very difficult,” she said. “A lot of people like us that are elderly, it’s very difficult to be in place, make an appointment and stand there for hours and hours.”

Cortes said the smaller pop up sites in neighborhoods she knows and trusts are less intimidating and overwhelming.

That’s what Dr. Adelita Cantu has heard from hundreds of community members. Cantu is an associate professor at the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing.

Cantu was one of the first people in San Antonio to get the COVID-19 vaccine back when it was offered to the public, and she now dedicates her time to getting others access to the shot.

“We’ve been doing anywhere from 40-60 people per event, and then they’re talking to their friends and neighbors, and I still have community-based organizations calling me saying, ‘I’d like to schedule an event,’” she said.

Cantu said the success lies in the comfort level of those in the neighborhood.

She pointed to a woman sitting in a wheelchair outside an apartment across the street from the pop-up clinic on South Hackberry. Earlier in the day, Cantu and her team walked up to to her and she told them she hadn’t been able to find transportation with her wheelchair to get to a mega site like the Alamodome. They were able to bring the vaccine over to her and give her the shot right outside her door.

“I think it’s the best thing that they’ve done,” Cortez said before she got her own shot in the mobile clinic.

Cortes and Cantu believe these small pop-up clinics are the key to getting San Antonio back to a COVID-free normal.

“I have a lot of family and I want to be around them,” Cortes said.

To find a list of where the pop-up clinics will be located this week, head to the City of San Antonio’s COVID-19 website.

That website also lists hours available for the mass vaccination sites at the Alamodome, WellMed Cisneros Center and Wonderland of the Americas Mall. Metro Health confirmed Tuesday those sites will stay in operation.

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.