By: Jessica Binkley
In an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated, UT Health San Antonio has partnered with San Antonio Metro Health District to offer COVID-19 vaccines during Fiesta. The Fiesta vaccination events come as part of a larger community outreach initiative to bring the vaccine to areas that need it most.
“We need to go where the people are,” said Ruth Berggren, MD, MACP, infectious disease specialist and director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at UT Health San Antonio, who co-leads the initiative. “We’ve seen activity at the bigger hubs starting to wind down, and we’ve had a lot of success when we’ve taken the vaccine to local, targeted areas. Fiesta is a gathering place for people in San Antonio, so what better time to get the message out about the importance of getting the vaccine.”
Receiving the vaccine will be a walk-up process, with no registration necessary.
The UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing’s mobile unit, including providers from the School of Nursing and the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, will administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on June 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Mission Reach Flotilla Fiesta event.
Metro Health will have additional Johnson & Johnson vaccination booths set up at the following Fiesta events:
•Fiesta Fiesta at Hemisfair Park, June 17, 3-7 p.m.
•Fiesta de Los Reyes at Market Square, June 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
•Longest Day Run at Comanche Park, June 19, 8-10 a.m.
•Run to Remember, June 19, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
•A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada, June 20 and 27, 12-5 p.m.
•Night in Old San Antonio at La Villita, June 22-25, 4-8 p.m.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is perfect for a walk-up, one-and-done setting, Dr. Berggren said. But she noted that it takes two weeks to be fully protected after receiving it, so masks should still be worn until that time. Also, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not currently approved for individuals under 18, so some form of ID to prove date of birth may be required.
Free giveaways of UT Health San Antonio T-shirts and masks will be available while supplies last, and limited-edition “Viva Vacuna” Fiesta medals will be available for purchase.
Fiesta is a time for celebration, with plentiful libations present, but alcohol consumption should not interfere with the vaccine as long as it is within responsible drinking limits, Dr. Berggren said. She also stressed that health and safety are a top priority at these events.
“Vaccine side effects are very rare, but people should be assured that, even though this is not a medical setting, there are trained personnel at every vaccination event prepared to deal with any outcome.”
As of June 11, UT Health San Antonio has hosted 83 vaccination events out in the community, and has fully vaccinated 2,458 individuals at those events.