Patience will be required as a rush to book a vaccine appointment at the Alamodome begins Thursday night.
Patience will be required as a rush to book a vaccine appointment at the Alamodome begins Thursday night. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

By the time you read this, the City will have made 30,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments available at the Alamodome.

If you are among those who will look to book an appointment, you should remember to take deep breaths. The City’s vaccine registration portal has a history of crashing amid the initial rush to sign up. At 7 p.m. Thursday, a blank page and spinning wheel of death ultimately took me to a “service unavailable” webpage.

This window of signups promises to be just as hectic as those in the past, as it’s the last chance for people in the state’s vaccine priority groups to secure an appointment before the state opens up eligibility to anyone who’s old enough on Monday.

Registrants really are on an honor system, said Dr. Junda Woo, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District’s medical director, as there is no way to vet them for eligibility before they show up to the vaccination site.

My worry is that ineligible residents will try to sign up anyway, not just people intentionally skipping the line but those under the impression the eligibility criteria have already been lifted.

If this is you, please give our residents age 50 and older and those with chronic health conditions the chance to sign up for a vaccine appointment tonight.

San Antonio City Council members continue to force the issue on the creation of a local vaccine registry, as many want to see the City adopt the waitlist approach that has been employed in a few other Texas cities. Public health officials have pushed back on the idea that a centralized registry would make signing up for the vaccine any easier.

They have cited officials from other jurisdictions that have created waitlists as saying the mechanism does not necessarily alleviate the stress and worry associated with trying to book an appointment. Counties in the Dallas-Forth Worth area have reported a plethora of issues that arose from having to maintain COVID-19 vaccine waitlists. People who weren’t eligible exploited loopholes to sign up, and a high rate of registrants weren’t showing up for appointments.

Plus, the state has announced a plan to launch its own version of a registry next week, allowing Texans to sign up for notifications of available appointments and drive-thru clinics.

Would vaccine waitlists be helpful in narrowing the gap between vaccine haves and have-nots? The disparity in access to shots has been pretty plain to see in San Antonio and just about every location in the U.S. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that counties with high social vulnerability had lower COVID-19 vaccination coverage. Bexar County ranks first in the country in social vulnerability, according to the CDC.

Please consider volunteering at a vaccination site. Volunteering often means you get a shot right after your shift. Even if you’ve already had your shot, sites need volunteers to continue sustaining their operations. You can sign up via the Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry and send questions by email to covidvolunteers@sanantonio.gov.

With 210 cases of the coronavirus reported on Thursday, the seven-day average stood at 179 cases. A Hispanic man in his 40s, an Asian man in his 60s, and a woman in her 50s are now among the more than 3,000 Bexar County residents who have died from COVID-19 complications. More than 15.6% of residents old enough to get the shot have been fully vaccinated.

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

  • 203,191 total cases, 210 new cases
  • 3,076 deaths, three new deaths
  • 188 in hospital
  • 69 patients in intensive care
  • 39 patients on ventilators
  • 243,317 residents fully vaccinated

JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez is the San Antonio Report's audience engagement editor.