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'We have to have faith': As Bexar Co. reaches 'devastating' milestone in pandemic, second vaccine provides glimmer of hope

Within the same hour Friday evening, Mayor Nirenberg announced the county had reached 100,000 cases and a second COVID-19 vaccine was approved by the FDA.

SAN ANTONIO — Hundreds more San Antonio-based frontline health care workers were immunized against the novel coronavirus on Friday as the city prepares for more incoming shipments and surpasses 100,000 total cases.

San Antonio will receive thousands more doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as doses of the now-FDA-approved Modern immunization. Leaders also said some who have been given the vaccine locally have experienced minor reactions.

On Friday, University Health vaccinated frontline health care workers like Dr. Jorge Villalpando. He has cared for patients who are severely ill.

"We have seen 30-year-old patients getting really ill and some of them didn't make it," he said.

He said he's hopeful now that he and some of his coworkers have been inoculated. 

"I hope to see that people trust science and just move forward," he said. "We have to have faith that things are going to get better with this."

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations remains high in Bexar County. On Friday, 832 were receiving treatment for their symptoms, and although that number is five fewer than Thursday, hospitalizations nonetheless have risen 8.2% since Monday. 

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, meanwhile, said that the grim milestone of 100,000-plus cases is a devastating development for the community.

"To be here, nine months later, still in the grip of this virus is devastating," he said. "But we want people to know they're not alone and help is on the way."

The U.S. will now begin to roll out its second authorized coronavirus vaccine. According to the state, Bexar County should get exactly 35,075 combined doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines next week. 

Still, local leaders say it will take a while to vaccinate the 120,000 health care workers in our area.

University Health Chief of Pharmacy Elliot Mandel said the different tiers for the rollout is going to take some time. 

"It is going to roll out over a prolong period of probably months, but not to a year," he said. "So we are going to get to the community as fast as we possibly can."