Like countless thousands of front-line health care professionals around the world, it’s been a rough year for Antonio R. Anzueto, MD.

Antonio R. Anzueto, MD, is a UT Health San Antonio pulmonologist who works with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at University Hospital. He received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 5.

“It’s very hard,” said Dr. Anzueto, a UT Health San Antonio pulmonologist who works with COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit at University Hospital and has seen his share of suffering. “There is no age, there is no gender, there’s no ethnicity, no socio-economic status. Anybody can get this disease. And that’s what we see in room after room after room. The best message is we have to protect ourselves. We have to wear a mask, we have to social distance. We have to get the vaccine.”

Which is exactly what he was doing Jan. 5, somewhat relieved and excited to be among the first UT Health San Antonio front-line personnel to receive the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

About 8,000 of the first doses of the vaccine, which began to be administered Dec. 15, had been given out by Jan. 4, said Cindy Sickora, DNP, RN, clinical professor and vice dean of practice and engagement in the School of Nursing.

The university has now moved to the second dose, administered approximately 21 days after the first. About 200 people were vaccinated Jan. 5, Dr. Sickora said, adding that the goal is to vaccinate approximately 1,000 people a day beginning Jan. 6. She said she expects the second round to be completed by Jan. 25.

The vaccines on campus are being administered in the School of Nursing through a large, collaborative process including hundreds of people across the university.

Dr. Anzueto, professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary Diseases and chief of the pulmonary section of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, said COVID-19 has taken a personal toll.

“I haven’t seen my grandchildren in a year. I haven’t seen my children in over 10 months,” he said. “This is the price we have to pay. When I work in the COVID units, I spend three weeks sleeping in the guest room. We don’t watch TV together, we sit far apart at dinner. I have to protect my wife. I can’t take any chances that she would get it.”

Dr. Sickora, who oversees all clinical activities within the School of Nursing, including the vaccine distribution, said the process has been challenging yet decidedly smooth.

While the distribution in the School of Nursing is for faculty, staff, students and residents, Tier 1b patients of UT Health Physicians practice — beginning with primary care and geriatric care center patients — are being offered the Moderna vaccine.

Primary care patients (current patients only) of the physicians practice will be vaccinated by appointment only and are being contacted directly through MyChart. The highest risk primary care patients will be scheduled for vaccination clinics beginning Jan. 9 at the Medical Arts and Research Center, said Robert Leverence, MD, chief medical officer of UT Health Physicians. The practice also plans to vaccinate all high-risk patients who have existing scheduled appointments in primary care clinics, effective immediately.

The Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson, has been allocated enough Pfizer COVID vaccines to vaccinate between 1,000 and 2,000 of its cancer patients, said Mark Bonnen, MD, chief medical officer, Jan. 4. The target date for the first vaccines to be administered is Jan. 11.

Both Drs. Leverence and Bonnen emphasized that the best way for patients to stay abreast of COVID-19 vaccine communications is to ensure that their MyChart account is active. All UT Health patients who are eligible for a vaccine, according to prioritized criteria, will be notified via a personalized link through MyChart that should be used to schedule their appointment for the vaccine.

If you have general questions about COVID vaccine eligibility for members of the community, please visit