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'I didn’t think it was so serious until it actually hit us:' Pop-up clinics serve to tackle unvaccinated communities

Organizations like the Beat AIDS Coalition Trust are on the streets of San Antonio informing vaccine-hesitant residents about the available options.

SAN ANTONIO — Metro Health is working alongside community organizations to educate and encourage people in low-vaccinated areas across Bexar County to get the shot.

The latest data released this week indicates 71% of eligible Bexar County residents (those 12 and up) are fully vaccinated.

Two weeks ago, Angelica Gutierrez felt the pain of losing a loved one to the coronavirus. Her grandmother, 65-year-old Isabel Cabriales, was unvaccinated.

“I didn’t think it was so serious until it actually hit us,” Gutierrez said. “She was on a ventilator for almost a week and they disconnected her and she only lasted possibly like 30 minutes and she passed.”

The virus also impacted her parents and sister, though not as aggressively as her grandmother.

“I myself, my family, my husband, my girls—we’re glad we haven’t gotten COVID even though my parents have gotten it,” Gutierrez said.

Miguel Cervantes, public health administrator for Metro Health, noted the city is focusing on reaching marginalized communities, including areas with low vaccination rates.

“We typically look at those zip codes that have an uptake of less than 50% and those are the ones we try and increase the number of pop-up clinics,” Cervantes said.

Organizations like the Beat AIDS Coalition Trust are hitting the streets to educate the public on what options are available.

“We literally do aggressive outreach where we’re out on bikes and cars and phones and texts and emails 24/7, trying to get people gathered to the nearest vaccination site,” said Joie Holt, who works with Beat AIDS Coalition Trust.  

Holt admits they’re not always successful with convincing people to attend one of the pop-up vaccine clinics. She’s heard so many reasons.

“Most of them are nonfactual, myth-driven, conspiracy theory-like reasons, and then we just try to present the facts, the science-based facts that we have gathered,” Holt said.

Gutierrez, who was initially hesitant on getting the vaccine, plans on getting her second dose in a few weeks. She also has a message for the community.

“I hope everyone takes it seriously, it’s something that no one should joke around with.”

You can find a list of upcoming pop-up vaccine clinics in Bexar County here