SAN ANTONIO — Capping a week in which they made repeated requests at nightly briefings for the federal government to help bolster vaccination efforts in Bexar County, local leaders on Friday sent a formal letter to the Federal Emergency Management Administration requesting another mass vaccination site in the community.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff's request comes after FEMA announced a trio of such sites in other populous Texas cities – Houston, Dallas and Arlington – that will be equipped to administer a combined 10,000 vaccines a day. Those immunizations will be in addition to the regular allotments from the state.
Nirenberg and Wolff's letter asserts that "the need in our region is just as great."
"We urge you to make San Antonio the next community to host one of these sites and to set up the site as quickly as possible," the letter states. "If FEMA cannot or will not locate a site in our community at this time, please send us additional vaccine supply so we can establish the site ourselves."
A locally operated mega vaccination site has been administering coronavirus shots to Bexar County for some weeks now, but the letter to FEMA also states that site faces the threat of closure if additional vaccines aren't received. According to Michelle Vigil, public relations manager for San Antonio, 40,466 vaccines have been administered at the Alamodome as of Thursday.
Meanwhile, according to state dashboards, nearly 75,000 Bexar County residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That amounts to about 480 fully vaccinated residents per 10,000 residents 16 and older, which outpaces the Texas communities where FEMA will establish its megasites this month. The dashboard reflects that Tarrant County has fully vaccinated 419 residents per 10,000 who are 16 and older; Dallas County has fully vaccinated 389 residents per 10,000 who are16 and older; and Harris County has fully vaccinated 463 residents per 10,000 who are 16 and older.
While that's more than Tarrant County (67,817), it lags behind Dallas County (78,995) and far behind Harris County (166,735).
Nirenberg reiterated the need at Thursday evening's coronavirus response briefing, addressing both state and national leaders.
"From Austin to D.C., we can't make the case any clearer: The data will show that Bexar County needs a lot more vaccine doses," the mayor said on Thursday. "We are relying on our federal and state partners to hear that message. This is a community that needs more doses, so we’ll be calling on them increasingly over the next several days to get those doses increase to Bexar County.”
The letter goes on to claim that Bexar County is particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus, citing the Centers for Disease Control's Social Vulnerability Index, which takes poverty, housing and health care into account.