Metro Health expanding vaccine mobile clinic model to bridge gaps in minority health care

Financial, physical access to immunizations still hinder minority communities

During Minority Health Month, communities nationwide are shining the spotlight on disparities in health care for minority populations. Metro Health is doing the same in San Antonio, putting its main focus on immunizations.

SAN ANTONIO – During Minority Health Month, communities nationwide are shining the spotlight on disparities in health care for minority populations.

San Antonio Metropolitan Health District is doing the same in San Antonio, putting its primary focus on immunizations.

A map on the Metro Health COVID-19 website shows the percentages of people vaccinated for COVID-19 in each area of San Antonio.

The lighter colors, showing fewer vaccinated people, are in many of the same ZIP codes where Metro Health has already identified disparities in health care for minorities.

“We have a lot of programs within federal immunizations that offer vaccines at low cost or no cost to those individuals who are underinsured, uninsured and those who are on Medicaid,” said Michelle Gilstrap, immunizations program manager for Metro Health.

Gilstrap said the financial aspect covered during the height of the pandemic would remain in place.

However, access is still an issue, so the department is also continuing and even expanding the mobile pop-up clinic model, which helped immensely when COVID-19 vaccines were released.

“Since the onset of COVID, we recognize the need to have additional staff available in their own right to go out and do these vaccine clinics,” Gilstrap said.

Federal dollars helped Metro Health hire 30 to 40 contract workers and fill full-time positions by moving employees from other departments.

Those jobs are permanent now that they’re scaling their mobile clinic model to fill continuing gaps in care.

“We’re utilizing our pop-up structure for getting not only COVID vaccine out but also intending to roll out other vaccines. So the scheduled vaccines, primarily for the back to school-age kiddos,” Gilstrap said.

Head to the interactive locator map on Metro Health’s vaccine website to find real-time locations of pop-up vaccine clinics around Bexar County.

Anyone can also request a pop-up mobile immunization clinic to come to their school, church or event.

Call Metro Health or email Gilstrap at michelle.gilstrap@sanantonio.gov.


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.

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