This story has been updated.
City officials announced Friday that the Alamodome will serve as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site starting Monday, and just minutes after registration opened Saturday morning, all 9,000 appointment slots for the week were filled.
The City will be administering 9,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine free of charge to people who qualify for vaccination as part of Phases 1A or 1B with the help of the San Antonio Fire Department and the San Antonio Metropolitan Health Department next week.
Phase 1A includes frontline healthcare workers and residents at long-term care facilities while 1B is people over 65 or people 16 or older with certain chronic medical conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, sickle cell disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and heart conditions. Pregnant women also are eligible.
The vaccines came from the thousands of doses that University Health had for the Wonderland of the Americas Mall vaccination site, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Friday.
“We had 18,000 vaccines that are available from Pfizer,” Wolff said. “I know that [Assistant City Manager Colleen Bridger] worked with [University Health President and CEO] George Hernández, and I think 9,000 are going here and 9,000 going out [to Wonderland]. So we do have that geographical diversity today and offer this opportunity to all of the citizens of Bexar County.”
State Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) said distributing available vaccines from another site in Bexar County was crucial to reaching more of the region. He applauded University Health for working with the City to provide vaccines at the Alamodome.
“I’m so proud of them because Wonderland was working well, but it’s not in the center of the city. … We need to have a location that is easily accessible,” Menéndez said.
What to expect from the process
People will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number, and date of birth when registering for an appointment, said Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of Metro Health’s Communicable Disease Division. No other information is required.
Individuals will be required to show identification of some sort when they arrive for their appointment, Kurian said, but that’s simply to ensure they meet the age requirement and are the same person who made the appointment.
“Any state-issued ID will suffice,” she said.
Once checked in, people who are able to physically enter the Alamodome will do so to fill out paperwork, receive the vaccine, and wait for 15 minutes to ensure they have no adverse reactions, Bridger said. After that, they will receive a card telling them when to come back for their second dose. If they are not able to physically enter the Alamodome or if they have a handicap placard for their car, they can do all of that via drive-thru.
City officials estimate they can vaccinate up to 1,500 people a day at the Alamodome. More doses are expected to arrive in the San Antonio area each week, Bridger said.
“We’ve got enough vaccine to get us through next week, but then we’ll get another shipment next week that will get us through the following week, et cetera, et cetera,” Bridger said.
The Alamodome will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday for vaccination appointments. People receiving vaccines will not be charged a fee.
People without internet access who are interested in signing up for a vaccination appointment can do so by calling 311, Bridger said. She stressed that only people with appointments would be able to receive vaccinations.
“We want to get as many people through as quickly as possible and having appointments is the best way to do that,” she said.
Metro Health has already mobilized community health workers to reach areas of the community hardest hit by the novel coronavirus to encourage vaccination, Kurian said.
“They are going door to door and giving out information about registration and how to call to register,” Kurian said. “If they don’t have the capacity to do it on their own, community health workers will help them register with iPads.”
The move to create a second mass vaccination site in San Antonio comes as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have surged, with more than 200 people admitted to local hospitals on Thursday alone. Almost 1,400 are currently hospitalized, and more than 1,500 local residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Though the Alamodome vaccination site was “good news,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg urged residents to continue following public health guidelines: Wear a mask and keep physical distance from people not in your household.
“Our fight against the virus is not over,” he said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is certainly a step forward in ending this pandemic but we still must work together now to slow the spread until the majority of people in our community are vaccinated.”