The reservation hotline to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at one of the two clinics operated by WellMed will reopen at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, with appointments starting Monday, Feb. 1. 

Residents eligible for vaccines under Phase 1A or Phase 1B can call 833-968-1745, with operators taking calls from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily until all slots are booked for all existing vaccine supply in stock, WellMed said in a statement Friday. WellMed added that registration will be required to receive a vaccination. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

With demand for vaccines still greatly outpacing supply of available appointments, WellMed warned callers they may hear a busy signal, receive a message that the line is out of service, or be asked to call again later. Each time the hotline has been opened for additional appointments it has received a flood of calls that have overloaded the phone service provider, WellMed explained in its statement. 

“We ask that you please be patient and, if need be, persistent,” WellMed stated. “Since the phone line opened Jan. 9, it has been called millions of times. Because of that high volume, callers who cannot get through are encouraged to keep calling back.”

At this time, only community members eligible under Phase 1A or Phase 1B may get vaccinated. Phase 1A applies to health care workers, or any long-term care facility residents. Phase 1B includes anyone over the age of 65 or adults 18 and older (or teens 16 and up with parent permission) with a chronic health condition.

WellMed’s two vaccination clinics are located within the Elvira Cisneros Senior Community Activity Center, located at 517 SW Military Dr., and the Alicia Trevino Lopez Senior One-Stop Center at 8353 Culebra Rd. 

The clinics are the result of a partnership between the City of San Antonio and WellMed, WellMed said in its statement. The provider got 9,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from Metro Health to continue vaccination efforts on the South and West sides of San Antonio. These doses are not intended for people who already received the first dose of vaccine, said Dan Calderon, vice president of communications and digital for WellMed.

“We are on a mission to reach the most vulnerable communities here in San Antonio and the data we received proves we are on the right track,” Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) said in a joint press statement with councilwomen Adriana Rocha Garcia (D4), Shirley Gonzales (D5), and Ana Sandoval (D7) released Friday. 

Using this phone-in method ensures seniors, some of whom do not have internet access, have just as much of an opportunity to get an appointment as younger people, Viagran said. 

The councilwomen said they understand residents’ frustration as they try to get vaccinated, encouraging constituents to continue calling the hotline if they do not get through the first time. 

“Please remember that it will only get easier to get an appointment as more people get vaccinated and San Antonio receives more vaccines,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccination  appointment at the Alamodome, visit covid19.sanantonio.gov/vaccine or call 311 and select option 8. A busy signal indicates that all operators are taking other calls, and callers should try again. 

Metro Health continues to add appointments on an ongoing basis as available, said Michelle Vigil, public relations manager for the San Antonio Metropolitan Heath District. 

All appointments for vaccination slots at Wonderland of the Americas mall scheduled through the University Health system are currently booked, with all appointments through the week of Feb. 1 marked as confirmed. 

“Once we receive more vaccine, we will open [our] scheduling tool and spread the news widely in the community,” University Health stated on its website. “If you would like to be notified when appointments become available, please subscribe to our HealthFocus newsletter and/or download our mobile app. At that time, we will send an alert email to our subscribers and a push notification through our app.”

While the state has added UT Health San Antonio’s clinical practice as a major COVID-19 vaccine hub, UT Health is not designated for vaccination of the general population. Instead, its role is to expedite the vaccination of its sickest and most vulnerable patients in its multispecialty practice, Executive Director of Media Communications Will Sansom told the San Antonio Report last week.

For more information on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, read the San Antonio Report’s Q&A with local physicians here.

Lindsey Carnett

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