With the delta variant now the dominant coronavirus strain in San Antonio, the city’s positivity rate has jumped from 5.4% to 11.2% since last week.

Officials called a press conference Wednesday to continue urging San Antonians to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to avoid another major spike. Data has shown vaccinated individuals have a high degree of protection against the delta variant and other strains.

“How fast the positivity rate is increasing is a warning to people who are being lackadaisical about getting vaccinated,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the San Antonio Report. “If you’re not vaccinated, this virus will find you, and it’s not pretty when it does.”

The largest spreader of the virus has become unvaccinated young people, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. Of local teens ages 15 to 19, only 29% are vaccinated, he said. For young adults ages 20 to 29, only 33%, Wolff added.

Overall, 61% of Bexar County residents are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

As children get ready to head back to school next month, it’s more important than ever that anyone 12 and older is vaccinated before then, said Dr. Bryan Alsip, executive vice president and chief medical officer at University Health.

“Nationally, over 99% of all recent COVID-19 deaths occurred in people who are not vaccinated, whereas only 1% of all COVID hospitalizations occurred among people who were vaccinated,” Alsip said.

Getting vaccinated also will help protect those around you from getting sick, Wolff said. This includes children or immunocompromised individuals who might not be able to get vaccinated yet, he said.

Wolff said he wishes people who are not yet vaccinated “would show more respect” and care for “other people, other than yourself.”

It also would help protect any elderly people who have been vaccinated but who may still be immunodeficient, such as some live-in residents at Blue Skies of Texas. Over the past couple of months, the retirement community has seen two completely vaccinated residents and two vaccinated employees test positive for COVID-19, said Darrell Jones, president and CEO of Blue Skies. Reaching the herd immunity threshold — about 80% of all people being fully vaccinated — would help protect these individuals, according to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“There’s still vaccination hesitancy because of misinformation,” Jones said. “Some people are still nervous, but if we could educate people, and they know what they’re facing, they’re going to opt for the vaccine over taking their chances.” 

The city is still operating 15 free COVID-19 testing sites and more than 30 vaccination clinics across San Antonio, said Claude Jacob, the new director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District. The press conference was Jacob’s first official public-facing event in his new role. 

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated,” Jacob said. Jacob encouraged residents to get both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single shot for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. A booster is not needed at this time, Jacob added.

Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the general assignment reporter for the San Antonio Report.