Dr. Adelita Cantu, an associate professor at UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing, made history by receiving the first COVID-19 vaccination in Bexar County in December 2020. Her efforts to reduce COVID-19 infections and deaths led her to join a regional coalition called Health Confianza, formed by about 30 community organizations that aimed to disseminate factual information about the virus and serve underserved communities. Cantu noted that the pandemic exposed access restrictions faced by some members in the community.
According to Cantu, the coalition’s efforts to educate and vaccinate communities in order to reduce deaths from COVID-19 were initially COVID-focused. However, as the pandemic evolves, Health Confianza is now transitioning to meet the needs of the community, which includes mental health and diabetes education. Although the COVID-19 emergency declaration is over and free tests and vaccines are no longer available, Cantu and others at UT Health San Antonio recognize that COVID-19 is still present in the community. As a result, Health Confianza will continue its mission of educating and serving the community.
Despite the challenges, Cantu reflected on the momentous experience of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. “It was a circus,” she recalled, with cameras everywhere and trucks everywhere. Despite the overwhelming attention, Cantu remains committed to promoting accurate, scientifically-based information and resources that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19.