It’s been 179 of the most memorable days of Elliott Mandell’s 40-year career as a pharmacist — and days he hopes never to see again.
The mass vaccination effort he led that began in early January at Wonderland of the Americas Mall ended Friday when University Health closed its temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinics there.
In the last six months, Mandell and hundreds of others from University Health working at the mall administered 412,631 doses of the vaccine.
“It was one moment in anyone’s career that hopefully will never have to be repeated,” Mandell said of the monumental effort to deliver a vaccine that could put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was also a moment that “allowed our profession to really provide an impactful means to directly improve the health of our community in such a mass way,” he said. “I don’t think it would ever be repeated. It won’t be in my time, I’m hoping.”
The clinic opened on one floor of the Northwest Side mall on Jan. 4 as part of the first public rollout of vaccines in San Antonio. At the time, the vaccine was available only to those prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine: people age 65 and older or people with certain chronic health conditions.
By February, the clinic marked its 100,00th injection and at its busiest point in March, nurses and technicians were administering 7,000 doses a day. That rate has dwindled as more vaccines became available, other vaccination sites opened throughout the city, and demand slowed.
On Thursday, health care workers administered just 302 doses at the mall.
When Mandell reflected on the experience Friday, he said he never anticipated the clinic would achieve what it has.
“In the beginning, the vaccine was at a scary point,” he said. “The vaccine supply was very scarce and the complexity of the Pfizer vaccine — to manipulate and get it ready for immediate injection was complex.”
Ultimately, however, supplies stabilized as more types of vaccines came online, practitioners became more comfortable, and Bexar County exceeded President Joe Biden’s July 4 goal of having 70 percent of the population vaccinated with at least one dose.
“It’s been just a great success for our community,” Mandell said.
Vaccinations will continue at the Robert B. Green campus pharmacy, 903 W. Martin St., for people age 12 and older. The vaccination clinic is open Monday through Saturday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; no appointment necessary. The clinic closes at 3 p.m. on July 5.
Here’s how and where to get the COVID-19 vaccine in San Antonio.