Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, stopped in San Antonio on Tuesday to commend local officials’ efforts on coronavirus vaccine distribution.

“What San Antonio has achieved is a model for those who have not achieved it, because what San Antonio has been able to deliver is normalcy more quickly to its residents,” Mayorkas said. “And I hope other cities see what San Antonio has done … and follow suit.”

Mayorkas, who met with homeland security employees in San Antonio earlier in the day, received a tour of the Wonderland of the Americas vaccination site, which is operated by University Health.

His visit comes just days ahead of July 4, the date President Joe Biden chose for his goal of partially vaccinating at least 70% of adults in America. With 66% of adults having had at least one dose and 57% fully vaccinated, it seems likely that goal will not be met by the United States — but Bexar County has exceeded it

As of Tuesday, more than 1.2 million people in Bexar County ages 12 and older have received at least one dose, representing almost 73% of the population. Nearly 58% are fully vaccinated, which translates to 959,040 people.

Bexar County’s figures include active military members who received shots from the Department of Defense and veterans who got theirs through the Department of Veteran Affairs.

In Texas, 61% of adults have been at least partly vaccinated and 52% are fully vaccinated. The state-level data does not include vaccines distributed by the DOD or the VA.

“One of the things that brought me to San Antonio was this remarkable site and what it represents,” Mayorkas said. “As [Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff] said, this site has given the vaccine to hundreds of thousands of residents of San Antonio.” He called city and county efforts “a model partnership” of vaccine delivery.

Mayorkas’ Texas visit coincided with that of first lady Jill Biden, who was scheduled Tuesday to visit Dallas and then Houston with second gentleman Doug Emhoff to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Mayorkas said strong city and county leadership, including mass vaccination sites and ongoing communication with the public, such as frequent joint coronavirus briefings, propelled San Antonio’s efforts to raise awareness and encourage vaccinations. He specifically praised the San Antonio Fire Department’s mobile program that vaccinated homebound residents who were unable to travel to get a coronavirus vaccine, saying it protected people who would have otherwise been overlooked.

“That was one of the core principles underlying the president’s effort to put shots in arms and that is the principle of equity, that no one is left out,” Mayorkas said. 

Wolff and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who joined Mayorkas for his visit, thanked him for stopping by San Antonio and echoed his urge to people who have not yet been vaccinated to get the shot.

“Vaccinations are the key if we are going to return to some sense of normalcy,” Nirenberg said. “They are the key reason why we were able to enjoy Fiesta this month. … Let me repeat, the unvaccinated remain at high risk of contracting COVID-19. And as the delta variant shows, COVID-19 is still dangerous and is too often fatal.” 

The Wonderland of the Americas vaccine site is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and will cease operations July 2. University Health will continue to administer injections from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the downtown Robert B. Green Vaccination Center, 903 W. Martin St. Find more information on where and when to get the vaccine here.

Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.