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Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas Visits San Antonio To Continue Biden’s Push For Vaccinations

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Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (right) visits the Wonderland of the Americas vaccination site joined by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolf (left) and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

President Biden’s goal of fully vaccinating 160 million adults by July 4 may not be achieved, but the administration is sending surrogates to continue the push. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was in San Antonio Tuesday to tour University Health’s vaccinated site at Wonderland of the Americas Mall.

The Biden administration wants 70% of U.S. adults vaccinated with at least one shot by July. It’s at 66% right now — or about 171 million adults according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. By comparison, about 54% of all Americans are vaccinated. As major cities see some stagnation in vaccination rates, the Biden administration sent Secretary Mayorkas, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff to Texas to encourage more residents to roll up their sleeves.

Mayorkas was joined by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff for the tour of the Wonderland of the Americas vaccination site which has been operating since December. Vaccination rates in Bexar County reached 70% for one dose which caused Mayorkas to call the city a model for others.

“What San Antonio will be able to deliver is normalcy more quickly to its residents, and I hope that other cities see what San Antonio has done and can do,” he said.

He praised the attempts at creating mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics throughout the city.

“And that underscores one of the core principles underlying the president’s effort to put shots in arms and that is the principle of equity that no one is left out of the public health circle,” he said.

Mayorkas’s visit coincides with a visit by First Lady Jill Biden who stopped in Dallas at a vaccination site at Emmett J. Conrad High School and later joined second gentleman Douglas Emhoff at Houston’s Minute Maid Park during a vaccination event.

Currently about 53% of Texas is fully vaccinated. Bexar County’s fully vaccinated rate is at 57%.

Bexar County and San Antonio held a coordinated campaign of mass vaccination sites at Wonderland Mall, the Alamodome and through two sites at WellMed clinics, which in the early stages of vaccination would see thousands of appointments fill up in minutes.

The major sites have seen declines in numbers and Mayor Nirenberg is hopeful the push from federal representatives like Mayorkas will help.

“We always see a surge of activity once there is a big push by public officials, by the media, by anyone in our community to underscore the importance, so I think it will help,” Nirenberg said.

It’s one potential surge that Nirenberg hopes can get ahead of the threat posed by the coronavirus’ Delta variant.

“We need to accelerate our immunity as quickly as we possibly can at every level,” he said.

On Wednesday morning, San Antonio Metro Health is expected to announce a new partnership with Spurs Sports and Entertainment to promote vaccinations Bexar County.

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