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San Antonio leaders attempt to provide clarity amid confusion about who is eligible for coronavirus vaccine

Tier 1B-eligible recipients of the vaccine include those over 64 and people 16+ years old with chronic medical conditions such as asthma and heart problems.

SAN ANTONIO — There is mounting confusion among older San Antonians who are wanting to get the coronavirus vaccine. 

More than 31,000 people have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Bexar County as part of Tier 1A. Dr. Colleen Bridger, an assistant city manager, stressed it’s vital to immunize first-priority recipients, which is an estimated 140,000 eligible candidates. 

“Frontline medical workers, such as hospital employees, EMS responders, long-term care facility employees and residents,” Bridger clarified. 

Governor Greg Abbott gave the green light for the next phase of vaccinations to begin in Tier 1B. Among those now eligible are people 65 and older, and younger Texans older than 15 who have a high-risk medical condition. 

But Bridger said the would-be recipients in this next group can only be vaccinated as availability allows. And, at the moment, there aren’t enough doses for community-wide vaccinations on a large scale.  

“I understand that people are getting mixed messages right now," she said Wednesday night. "They’re being told that if you’re 65 and over, go ahead and get your vaccine. 

"But the bottom line is we have not yet received enough vaccines to vaccinate those individuals. Just as soon as we do, we will get that vaccine out to the community."

Metro Health is working with pharmacies and partnered health care providers to come up with plans for a massive rollout of the vaccine to people 65 and older. Meanwhile, Metro Health officials say the remaining 40,000 of the initial 90,000-dose allocation for the San Antonio area should be arriving "within the next week."

As the waiting game continues for many, some people 65 and older are getting their first shots, including Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. 

“There are plenty of people beyond Judge Wolff who are over 65 who have been vaccinated, and that’s OK," Bridger said. "I don’t want to give the impression that until we’ve vaccinated all 140,000 healthcare workers, we’re going to vaccinate nobody else. That’s not the message here."