COVID-19 vaccine: Your questions answered header

With more supply of COVID-19 vaccines coming to San Antonio and leaders working to establish a centralized registration system, help is on the way.

However, local leaders continue to be concerned about coronavirus activity in other areas of the U.S. and abroad, as well as the spread of new variants of the disease. Add this to upcoming holidays and the summer and there is a chance for more COVID-19 spread, especially since some people have not yet been vaccinated.Lark Ford, PhD, MSN, MA, RN, associate professor in the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio

Vulnerable populations are of special concern to Lark Ford, PhD, MSN, MA, RN, associate professor in the School of Nursing at UT Health San Antonio. Vulnerable populations are those that are at increased risk and more likely to become severely ill, including those with underlying chronic medical conditions, no convenient access to health care services, and groups facing social inequities and racial and ethnic disparities, among other factors.

Dr. Ford answers questions related to the coronavirus below.

Q: More people are now getting vaccinated. Is it safe to take off our masks?

Dr. Ford: Not yet. There are still a lot of people who have not yet been fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us that we are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving both shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or after receiving a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. For everyone’s safety, we should continue wearing a mask, keep six feet apart and wash our hands. The CDC says [at the time this article was written] that groups of people who have been fully vaccinated can get together inside without masking or social distancing, but hand washing is still very important. And if you’ve been near someone diagnosed with COVID-19 and you’ve been fully vaccinated, you don’t need to quarantine unless you have symptoms. Those who have not yet been fully vaccinated should still follow the rules of wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, avoiding gatherings outside your immediate household and frequent hand washing. Some people may consider traveling this summer. I suggest checking the CDC website for the latest information:

Q: There are some people who are concerned about getting the vaccine. What would you tell them?

Dr. Ford:  As a woman of color and as a health care provider, I would say that the purpose of the vaccine is to protect people from getting the coronavirus. Science has shown that the Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines are safe and effective. I have gotten it and we should all get the COVID-19 vaccine. And for those who may be concerned about cost, the vaccines are free to everyone. It’s important that we get the vaccine to protect ourselves and our families, and to bring people back into our businesses, our communities and our churches.

Q: I know you have a special interest in vulnerable populations. Do you have any projects underway to help special populations get the vaccine?

Dr. Ford: I am serving on a committee in the School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that is looking into what we can do to help people who are homeless and those who are homebound to get the vaccine. We want to provide reliable information. Some people who are homebound don’t have internet capability or if they do, they still can’t come out of their homes. Sometimes they may read about the vaccine on the internet, but they need to talk about it face-to-face with someone they can trust. With people who are homeless, we need to find a way to get them trustworthy information, to encourage them to get their vaccination and then provide it to them. And we need to find ways to quarantine them if they are exposed and help them if they get COVID.

“Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions Answered” is part of an educational series about the COVID-19 vaccine featuring helpful information and guidance from UT Health San Antonio’s leading health care experts. If you have questions you’d like our experts to answer, please contact

Be informed.