Metro Health has done a great job at the Alamodome


San Antonio’s Metro Health District has set up a pretty efficient vaccination center at the Alamodome, just a few minutes walk from Lavaca and King William.

Vaccinations are currently open only to healthcare workers, long-term care residents, people 65 or older, people 16 or over with certain health conditions, and essential workers with certain health conditions (see footnotes for details).

The tough part is reserving a spot. Spots are available online (see footnotes) or — if you’re unable to access the online system — by calling 311, but they go really fast.

Metro Health has been receiving the vaccine in batches of 9,000 doses and is getting them into arms as fast as they arrive. When a new shipment is received, online registration is opened up. Right now, the city is opening up about 2,000 slots a day, staggering the vaccinations across several days, so it pays to give the registration system a try every day.

Lavaca and Friends checked out the Alamodome facility and process earlier this week, and we were impressed by the organization, efficiency, professionalism, and friendliness of the operation and the staff. Kudos to the City and Metro Health for this professional operation.

The process is staged, and each vaccine recipient is walked through the stages, one by one, with plenty of help at each stage.

Briefly, here’s the process:

You check in with a QR code that you received when you registered. You can show the code printed on paper or just show it on your cell phone. You must also have photo ID to prove you’re the person who registered.

Note that reservations are for particular time slots. The slots don’t appear to be rigid, but they keep the flow even.

When you check in, you’re compared to the reservation list and marked off.

After check-in, you’re sent to the next staging area, where you’re given a clipboard with several pages of forms you need to fill in. The paperwork area has lots of chairs (socially distanced) and staff walking around to help people who have questions.

The paperwork is a lot like paperwork you might fill out when making your first visit to a doctor — it’s making sure staff is aware of any health conditions that might affect how you react to a vaccination.

When you finish the paperwork, you raise your hand, staff retrieves the clipboard, and you and your paperwork are sent along to the next stage - the vaccination itself.

At the vaccination stage, there may be a short line as the traffic manager at the head of the line watches for one of the many vaccination stations to open up. It's like lining up at the bank for the next open teller.

When your turn comes, you’ll be sent to a table where a health care worker will go through your paperwork, ask you questions about possible concerns, explain the vaccination, and give you the shot.

At the same time, you’ll get a card that indicates which vaccine you received (Pfizer or Moderna), the lot number of your dose, the date of your vaccination, and the date after which you can get your required second shot. You’ll also receive some further informational paperwork about the vaccine.

After getting the vaccination, you move to a waiting area (another area of socially-distanced chairs). You’re asked to wait for fifteen minutes to ensure that — if you have an unexpected adverse reaction — you’ll be surrounded by personnel who can help you.

During that time, someone will stop by to give you additional information about your second dosage, encourage you to register with the CDC for follow-up, and suggest that you take a photo of your vaccine card so you don’t lose it.

The vaccines require a second dose after a two- or three-week wait. The minimum wait time depends of whether you’ve received the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine. In a new step added Thursday, Metro Health will now take your appointment for the second dose before you leave the facility. They sign you up, and you get a confirming email and text.

Our overall impression of the facility and the operation is that it shows excellent planning and management, plus a staff of caring and effective healthcare workers. Nowhere in the process did we see long lines on the two visits we made (Wednesday morning and Thursday morning). Metro Health is showing how well something like this can be done.

NOTE: We did see long lines of automobiles outside, and we don’t know how efficient that automobile process might be. Bottom line: we can’t attest to the efficiency of the drive-in process, but we can certainly recommend walking in.

Footnotes, if any

To register, go to the City’s COVID-19 vaccination page and click the gold ‘register for your vaccination’ button halfway down the page. On that same page, you’ll find a description of the categories of people who are currently eligible for the shots.

Click photos to enlarge...

Vaccine registration button

Click the gold registration button to start the registration process.

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