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San Antonio COVID cases continue to rise; 5 deaths reported in the past week

A nurse fills up syringes with COVID-19 vaccines for residents who are over 50 years old and immunocompromised and are eligible to receive their second booster shots in Waterford, Michigan, in 2022.
Emily Elconin
A nurse fills up syringes with COVID-19 vaccines for residents who are over 50 years old and immunocompromised and are eligible to receive their second booster shots in Waterford, Michigan, in 2022.

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Mirroring a national trend, COVID-19 cases in San Antonio continue to rise following a summer of smaller, steady increases.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reports 2,629 new COVID cases in the week ending Sept. 18 and five COVID-related deaths.

That's an increase of nearly 600 cases from the previous week and the fourth week in a row Bexar County has reached over 2,000 cases.

Updated COVID vaccines that protect against the latest Omicron variants have started rolling out at San Antonio-area pharmacies, including Walgreens, CVS, and HEB.

CVS and Walgreens stores in San Antonio have started rolling it out. Eligible patients can make an appointment online. H-E-B also has the updated vaccine. Patients can receive it two months after their last booster dose.

Metro Health said it will continue to offer weekly pop-up immunization clinics for the vaccine.

"For people with health insurance, most plans will cover the new COVID-19 and flu vaccines at no cost to the individual. People who don’t have health insurance or with health plans that do not cover the cost can get their vaccines from Metro Health or pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Bridge Access Program (including CVS and Walgreens)," Metro Health said in a statement.

The vaccine is available for everyone aged six months and older — and it can be paired with the flu and RSV vaccines.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine. This comes just in time: your last inoculation is wearing off, there's a new variant and the winter could bring about the spread of covid season. What do you need to know about the latest protection against the spread of COVID?

Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious diseases specialist, told TPR's Petrie Dish podcastthat San Antonians should prioritize our oldest and youngest.

"The groups that are highest priority for getting boosters are the elderly, especially if you're over 75, people who are immunocompromised, pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions, especially if it's a heart or lung condition and people living in nursing homes," Gounder said. "One group that we're also seeing in ERs and in the hospital right now increasingly is infants from COVID. And very few infants are vaccinated. Less than 5% of infants nationwide are vaccinated against COVID. And so that's a real gap."

The most common side effects of the new vaccine may include injection site pain, redness and swelling, as well as fatigue, muscle pain, chills, headache, and fever.

"The side effects that people have after they received the COVID vaccine are related to their immune system at work. There's pretty significant variability and this was seen in the clinical trials." said Dr. Jason Bowling is a professor and infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio and chief epidemiologist at University Health.

Bowling told TPR's The Source that people should consult with their doctor about their vaccine plans and consider their experience with earlier COVID vaccines.

"Knowing what your response has been to the vaccine is good so you can make plans appropriately. This is the same vaccine platform so there won't be any big changes," he said, adding that those who are hesitant should give extra thought to vaccination. "Getting COVID is serious. We've definitely seen people who had a mild case of COVID and so they didn't get the vaccine and then on their second case of COVID, they had severe illness and ended up in the hospital. We also see some people can end up with long COVID even if they have a mild case and don't end up in the hospital."

Dr. Monica Verduzco-Gutierrez runs two long COVID clinics in San Antonio, is known for running marathons, and she partners in running a home as a mom to two children. But after recovering from COVID-19, she couldn’t walk around a mall. Host Bonnie Petrie speaks with Dr. Gutierrez about the realities of long COVID for millions of people three years into the pandemic.

Bowling also recommended wearing a mask, even if many others in public places are not doing so.

"One way masking — which means you wear a mask even if people around you are not wearing a mask — will reduce your chances of getting infected," he said. "The key thing is we need everyone to be tolerant. If someone is choosing to where a mask, that's their decision and they probably have good reason for doing so. If someone chooses not to wear a mask, that's their decision. But we need a little more civility and tolerance regarding that issue."

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