The City of San Antonio plans to inoculate as many as 1,500 residents a day at its Alamodome-based mass vaccination site.
The City of San Antonio plans to inoculate as many as 1,500 residents a day at its Alamodome-based mass vaccination site. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

After University Health System, among other local health care providers, began making the vaccine available to the people eligible under the state’s Phase 1B group, it became clear that many who wanted to get vaccinated would have to wait for additional shipments of the vaccine to arrive. University Health’s online registration for COVID-19 vaccine appointments, for example, closed within five hours of becoming available.

With the City of San Antonio set to stand up a COVID-19 mass vaccination site at the Alamodome beginning on Monday, residents in phases 1A and 1B had another chance to sign up for the injection. The 9,000 available appointments were fully booked within minutes of registration opening Saturday morning.

That’s left most of the approximately 60 percent of San Antonians who qualify for the vaccine priority under the current criteria to scramble to find providers who have doses.

“We’re ramping up,” County Judge Nelson Wolff said at a Friday press briefing. “And I think as you see the next several days go by you’ll find more and more sites that will be offering the vaccine.

The City plans to vaccinate as many as 1,500 people per day from Monday to Saturday. Mayor Ron Nirenberg said that the City hopes to receive new supplies consistently enough to administer vaccinations each week “for the foreseeable future.”

“That is dependent upon a steady supply of vaccine being distributed San Antonio area,” Nirenberg said. “I know there’s probably not a community in this nation that isn’t expecting the same thing.”

The City has made 311 operators available to register people for vaccinations by phone in addition to online registration beginning Saturday morning on its website.

Dr. Lynnette Watkins, chief medical officer at Baptist Health System, said Friday the local hospital system also plans to make vaccinations available to the public in the future but is currently focused on vaccinating those in Phase 1A.

How efficiently the country is able to vaccinate enough residents to establish herd immunity depends largely on the supply and logistics around distributing the vaccines. A number of other drugmakers – in addition to Pfizer and Moderna, manufacturers of the approved vaccines – are in varying stages of proving their shots’ efficacy.

One such candidate is a vaccine in late-stage trials produced by Maryland-based Novavax. The company is seeking trial participants in San Antonio.

Although good news is coming to San Antonio in the form of vaccine doses, the situation in the city’s hospitals continues to worsen, with an additional 179 patients admitted to local hospitals for COVID-19 treatment. The total patient count climbed from 1,376 on Thursday to 1,398 on Friday, and 388 are in intensive care while 216 are being ventilated.

Five more members of the community, all men ranging in age from 40 to 89, have died as a result of their COVID-19 infections.

Here are the local coronavirus numbers as of 7 p.m. Friday:

  • 129,146 total cases, 1,079 new cases
  • 1,591 deaths, five new deaths
  • 1,398 in hospital, 10% beds available
  • 388 patients in intensive care
  • 216 patients on ventilators, 49% ventilators available

JJ Velasquez was a columnist, former editor and reporter at the San Antonio Report.