A nurse in the COVID-19 intensive care unit assembles layers of personal protective equipment and slips a second pair of examination gloves over her hands on June 19.
A nurse in the COVID-19 intensive care unit assembles layers of personal protective equipment and slips a second pair of examination gloves over her hands on June 19. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is expected to come at any moment from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as the White House has informed its director that if he doesn’t announce approval Friday he’ll be out of a job.

Approval of the vaccine was already expected to come this weekend – with earlier reports indicating the FDA was gearing up for a Saturday announcement – after a federal advisory panel on Thursday recommended sanctioning the Pfizer-produced shot for emergency use.

Nearly 30,000 frontline health care workers in San Antonio are slated to get immunized next week when 11 health care providers will receive Bexar County’s first allotment of doses. Dr. Ruth Berggren, a UT Health San Antonio professor of medicine, said on Thursday at a town hall to discuss the local vaccine distribution that frontline health care workers would receive the vaccine first, according to the tiered priority list recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with residents at long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

“Subsequently with additional phases, we’ll bring in people who are firefighters, and police officers, and folks working in detention facilities, educators, people who work in food and agriculture, and then we bring in the next phase where we’re looking at folks that are over the age of 64 and/or who have some kind of medical condition that would make them be more vulnerable,” Berggren said.

Want to know when you might receive the vaccine? Answer four short questions, and find your place in line with this New York Times interactive feature.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged patience from San Antonio residents, as distributing the vaccine will be a months-long endeavor.

“It is going to take some time, even to get it to the critical-needs groups,” he said. “So it’s really important that we maintain our precautions even prior to getting the vaccines.”

There’s no news on whether teachers might sneak into one of the first groups to receive the vaccine, Nirenberg said. The governor’s office has not responded to a letter the mayor sent requesting educators be added to the priority list. Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff said they would follow up next week.

The first immunizations will take place as hospitals in Bexar County are seeing an influx of COVID-19 patients. The total patient count saw a significant jump, from 658 on Thursday to 716 on Friday.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District on Friday reported more than 1,000 more new cases of the coronavirus, as the seven-day moving average stands at 1,030.

Six additional deaths have brought the local toll to 1,418. The deceased patients were between the ages of 50 and 99.

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

  • 92,484 total cases, 1,090 new cases
  • 1,418 deaths, six new deaths
  • 716 in hospital, 9% beds available
  • 223 patients in intensive care
  • 115 patients on ventilators, 63% ventilators available
JJ Velasquez

JJ Velasquez

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