Data shows COVID-19 vaccination rates continue to vary across Bexar County

Metro Health chief of epidemiology says the numbers you see on vaccination maps don’t tell the whole story

SAN ANTONIO – Currently, 64% of Bexar County’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but breaking down the rates into smaller sections by ZIP code reveals some areas are progressing faster than others.

Some ZIP codes, such as 78108, have a fully vaccinated rate of just 8.25%. ZIP code 78039 has some improvement with 10.29%. Those numbers seem incredibly low compared to other areas, such as ZIP code 78015, with a 68.45% fully vaccinated rate.

Dr. Rita Espinoza, chief of epidemiology for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, says these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt.

“It’s also a possibility that part of the population is outside of our county. And so that may be one of the reasons why it’s low as well. That may not be that that ZIP code is truly that low,” Espinoza said.

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A KSAT crew was hard-pressed to find anyone who was unvaccinated while talking with people in the 78108 ZIP code.

“I’m a Christian. I believe I’m going to go to heaven because I believe in Jesus,” Shane Hinze said. “But I was, like, maybe I’ll stick around a little longer. So I got vaccinated.”

“I was actually one of the first to get in the first round to get my vaccine,” Sarah Desjean said. “I just feel like it’s a way to help myself as well as other people.”

Espinoza said the areas she’s more concerned about are east of the city.

“It really kind of is the similar trend that we see with other health issues and other disparities that happen across the county,” Espinoza explained. “And, unfortunately, some of those are related to individuals that may have higher levels of poverty, lower insurance coverage, different demographic makeup as well.”

KSAT went to some of the areas Espinoza mentioned, places like ZIP codes 78219 and 78202.

Responses were different there. One young woman told us she didn’t want the vaccine but had to get it for school. She said both of her parents were also unvaccinated because of vaccine distrust.

It’s a frustrating battle health care workers are fighting.

“It is difficult for us, and we try our hardest to talk. But we also say, ‘You know, we need other individuals, especially individuals from those communities, to share their stories and to try to help encourage,’” Espinoza said.

Looking at the map of the city and seeing the varying vaccination rates, it’s nearly impossible for Metro Health to point to one key reason why there are disparities.

“I think if we knew why there were the disparities, it would be a quick fix, so I think it’s definitely a multitude of reasons why,” the chief epidemiologist explained.

But Espinoza says there’s good news. There used to be more ZIP codes falling behind. But initiatives such as going door to door, community partnerships, and encouragement from trusted peers are working.

“We just kind of have to stay on the course and continue,” Espinoza said.

Metro Health is also focusing on bringing pop-up clinics to areas with lower vaccination rates to increase accessibility and cut down on travel for those who want to get vaccinated.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.