The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office began vaccinating the people incarcerated at the county jail on Saturday and have inoculated 495 people so far, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

The Bexar County Adult Detention Center currently has about 3,800 people incarcerated, and the number of coronavirus cases has risen slightly in recent days, Sheriff Javier Salazar told commissioners on Tuesday. 

“In spite of our best efforts, we still saw a little bit of an uptick the last couple of days in our COVID positives,” Salazar said. “For the past several weeks we’ve been at two inmates positive, five inmates positive. Today we’re at 16. We saw a slight uptick. We’re going to probably see it go up a little more, and then it’ll start dropping back down if our forecast holds out, but it just reminds us that we still can’t be too relaxed.”

So far, 40% of eligible Bexar County residents have been fully vaccinated, and nearly 60% have received at least one dose. Bexar County providers began administering vaccines in December to frontline workers. Eligible populations expanded to include people age 65 and older and people age 16 and older with preexisting health conditions. By the end of March, all adults in Texas were eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. But it took months after Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rolled out in Texas for people incarcerated in Texas prisons to get vaccinated.

The jail is still following coronavirus prevention measures that the sheriff’s office implemented earlier in the pandemic last year, Salazar said. That includes testing everyone who enters the jail, cleanings three times a day, mandatory masks for both inmates and detention deputies, and providing new masks to inmates every day.

Salazar estimated that about a third of the inmate population would opt to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. San Antonio-based Carvajal Pharmacy is providing vaccine doses and administering them to inmates who request it, University Health spokeswoman Elizabeth Allen said. Inmates will have access to the Moderna vaccine, which has a two-shot regimen and requires four weeks in between doses.

“In regards to their second dose, those in custody will receive their second dose,” spokesman Johnny Garcia said in an email. “Those who are released will be provided information from UHS to follow up and receive their additional dose at a location on the specified date and time provided by UHS.”

All inmates receive a vaccine card denoting the date and kind of vaccine they were given, said Adelina Simpson, a spokeswoman for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. Those who are released before receiving a second dose can refer to their card for when they should visit a vaccine provider for their second dose.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.