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'If you can hold off, please hold off': City's top health official asks healthy adults to wait on vaccine until after more vulnerable residents

Local leaders say there are still deep in the effort to immunize the community's most vulnerable residents.

SAN ANTONIO — For weeks, San Antonio-area leaders have publicly exhibited frustration over coronavirus vaccine supply issues, imploring state and federal officials to send more doses to the country's seventh-biggest city. 

Now, in the hours after Texas announced all adults would be eligible to get vaccinated beginning March 29, the city's top health official is asking some San Antonians to consider waiting a few weeks before trying to lock down an appointment. The reason: There are still thousands of older San Antonians who have yet to get the shot. 

"There are still a number of people who are 50 and up who have not yet been vaccinated. If you're a healthy, young individual and can wait a month or so, please do that," said Colleen Bridger, interim Metro Health director and assistant city manager, at Tuesday evening's coronavirus response briefing. 

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, nearly 233,500 have been fully vaccinated, while more than 420,000 have received at least one dose. For most of 2021, Mayor Ron Nirenberg has asserted the city has the capability to vaccinate more residents—it just needs more of those vaccines to begin with. 

Now, Bridger is advising the city's young and healthy to at least consider setting up an appointment with one of the metro's numerous smaller distributors, such as individual pharmacies. That, she said, would allow "the more vulnerable population" to take advantage of one of the city's mass vaccination sites. 

Meanwhile, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said the community has struggled to complete individual vaccination tiers before the next one would be announced by the state. 

"That's been a problem from the very start," Wolff said on Tuesday. "We hadn't finished (vaccinating) first responders and they say, 'OK, anyone 65 and over can come—we haven’t finished that either. And now we’re saying everybody can come. It’s making it pretty complicated."

Further hindering the area's vaccination efforts are an apparent increase in no-shows from residents with appointments. Bridger said the no-show rate was at about 5% "a couple weeks ago" before climbing to 10%. Last week, the percentage of those not showing up for their shot went up even further. 

"There was a day we had a 20% no-show rate," she said. "If you are forunate enough to get a COVID vaccination appointment, please keep that appointment. It's only exacerbating the unavailability for other people."

Across Texas, nearly 9.4 million doses have been administered out of about 14.24 million doses distributed.