FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Office

Address
111 Soledad, Suite 1000
San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone
210.207.8780

Food Licensing & Permits FAQs

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First you must have access to a location that is zoned for that activity. Complete the City Certificate of Occupancy requirements at the Development and Business Services Center at 1901 S. Alamo. Clerks are available to assist you. Finally, purchase a Food Establishment License at the same location. If you need more information, download the “Guide to Starting your Business” from the City's Economic Development Department or the EDD’s First Point Business Information Office at 210.207.3900 for assistance.
No. This is a direct violation of State law, City health codes and City zoning codes.
Expenditures vary considerably. You have to consider rent, utilities, labor, equipment, supplies, maintenance, and City Food Establishment License [fees]. If you need more specific assistance, call the Economic Development Department’s First Point Business Information Office at 207-3900 to meet with a business counselor.
Call 210.207.8853, Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To report a complaint after hours call 210.207.8730 and leave a message or email us and we will contact you during normal business hours.

Yes, but to do so you must operate on commercial property. Obtain a notarized letter from the property owner that:

  1. grants you permission to conduct your fundraiser at the location
  2. grants access to restrooms on property

Take notarized letter to Development Services Center, 1901 S. Alamo, to purchase a temporary food establishment license at least three (3) days prior to the event. You do not need additional permission to operate a temporary event from nearby restaurants, grocery stores, or other food establishments to have a temporary food event license. However, for mobile vendors, see [question 6].

You are required to obtain a Mobile Vending License for the vehicle. To obtain one, first read the City Ordinance [requirements.]

You must drive the vehicle, which requires a license, to the DBSC to get the vehicle inspected before the license can be issued. To sell at a fixed location, it must be a commercial property, with a notarized letter of permission from the property owner that also grants access to restrooms on the property. You must also have notarized letters of permission from any licensed food establishment that is within 300 feet of your mobile vending unit.

No. This is a direct violation of State law, City health codes and City zoning codes.
Visit the Texas Department of State Health Services website to get a copy of the Texas Food Establishment Rules (PDF).
Read about what is legally harvested wild game.
Inquire or complain about over the counter drugs.
Get answers to questions about federal food safety.

Farmers Market Q&A

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A Farmers Market is defined as a location certified by the Texas Department of Agriculture or the Texas Certified Farmer's Market Association used primarily for the distribution and sale of raw agricultural products grown by farmers or for the distribution and sale of custom processed agricultural products made by agricultural producers from their agricultural products which are sold directly to consumers and such products meet all applicable federal, state, and local health laws regulating their manufacture and sale.
Farmers market must be set up on commercial property. Farmers markets are not allowed on residential property. There is no limitation on the frequency that a farmers market may be held.
Event sponsor/coordinator refers to the farmers market organizer, sponsor or coordinator for a market event with two or more temporary food establishments. The event sponsor/coordinator shall be responsible for submission of all applications and fees to the department on behalf of event participants, and shall have oversight of event participants.
The purpose for the farmers market food vendor permit is to ensure food safety for consumers where prepared food is sold for on-site consumption. The permit provides a cost-effective way to inspect a vendor’s booth and assure all rules regarding food safety are in place. The cost of the permit covers a visit from a Metro Health sanitarian to inspect the booth.
If you plan to sell plates of food or beverages for on-site consumption at a farmers market, a permit is required. You do not specifically need to get the farmers market food vendor permit, however, this is the most cost effective option. A vendor also has the option of using a temporary food permit to sell food or beverages at a farmers market (limited to four events per year) or a mobile food establishment permit if the farmers market allows mobiles.
The permit is good for one month, per vendor, per location and is considered valid only on the specified day of the week at the specific listed farmers market location. The cost of the permit is $46.35. You can pay with cash, check or credit card.
The farmers market event sponsor/coordinator shall be responsible for applying and submitting fees for all temporary food establishment permits at a market . Permits can be purchased at 1901 S. Alamo. Be sure to bring all pertinent information to include: farmers market name and location, date the market will operate, valid ID and food source information, if applicable, for each application.
With this permit you can sell all foods and beverages prepared at the market for on-site consumption while the market is in operation.
If you do not purchase a farmers market food vendor permit and you sell food or beverages for on-site consumption at a farmers market, flea market or trade show, then you must hold either a Temporary Food Permit (limited to four events per year) or a Mobile Vending Permit (Kitchen on wheels.)
In accordance with the Texas Food Code, if you sell food or beverages for on-site consumption at a farmers market, flea market or trade show, you must have a food handlers permit, overhead protection, floors, graded to drain, concrete, rolled asphalt, plywood or mats removable platforms, duckboards or other suitable material approved by the regulatory authority. Potentially hazardous items must be maintained at safe food temperatures (above 135oF for hot foods and below 41oF for cold foods.) Food must be dispensed in a manner that will protect foods from contamination. Water must come from an approved source and you must provide a gravity-fed hand washing station (water, soap and paper towels). There must be no bare hand contact (utensils or gloves.) You must also have a garbage container with a tight fitting lid and three pans to wash, rinse and sanitize all utensils. Pans must be large enough to submerge all utensils.
Temporary Food Event Licensing FAQs
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City Ordinance requires all events where food is sold or given away to have a license from Metro Health. See Chapter 13, Food and Food Handlers, Article VIII Food Service Establishments, Sec. 13-213 Sanitation Requirements of temporary food service establishments. In addition, State regulations require inspections of all temporary food service establishments in section §229.170.
“(a) General. A temporary food establishment shall comply with the requirements of these rules except as otherwise provided in this section. The regulatory authority may impose additional requirements to protect against health hazards related to the conduct of the temporary food establishment, may prohibit the sale of some or all potentially hazardous foods, and when no health hazard will result, may waive or modify requirements of these rules.”
If you’re not sure whether your special event is exempt from licensing, contact Metro Health at 210.207.0135 and ask about temporary food event licensing rules, or visit the Health desk at 1901 S. Alamo.
If you wish to sell food as a temporary food booth in the Downtown business district, you MUST also contact the Downtown Operations Department at 210.207.3677.  Additional information is available. There are additional rules and permits required to do so. See below for the definition of the district from City Ordinance: Downtown business district shall be the area beginning at the interchange between Durango Boulevard and IH-35 Expressway; thence northward and eastward along IH-35 Expressway to IH- 37 Expressway; thence southward on IH-37 to Durango Boulevard; thence westward along Durango Boulevard to IH-35 Expressway, to the point of beginning.
In addition to the Metro Health Temporary Food Establishment license, if you wish to sell food during Fiesta at any sanctioned Fiesta event or on the parade route, you have to contact the Fiesta Commission.
Farmers Market, Flea Market or Trade Show Permit
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  • $77.25 annual fee
  • Come to 1901 S. Alamo
  • Bring all pertinent information with you:
    • Primary point of sale information (Farmers markets must be certified by the Texas Dept. of Ag or the Texas Certified Farmer’s Market Association)
    • State Manufacturing License, if applicable
    • Valid Driver’s License
  • All prepackaged items (potentially hazardous and non-potentially hazardous)
  • Open handling of non-potentially hazardous foods
    • Baked goods
    • Bulk agricultural products
    • Candy
    • Jerky
  • Eggs
    • Labeled with farmers/producers name and address and as “ungraded”
    • Must have label: SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS: To prevent illness from bacteria, keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks area firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly
    • Kept at 45oF or less
  • Open handling of potentially hazardous foods is not allowed.
  • Overhead protection
  • Bite sized portions only
  • Potentially hazardous items must be maintained at safe food temperatures (above 135oF for hot foods and below 41oF for cold foods)
  • Dispensed in a manner that will protect foods from contamination.
  • Samples must be thrown away after 4 hours.
  • Gravity fed hand washing station (water, soap and paper towels)
  • No bare hand contact (utensils or gloves).
  • 3 pans to wash, rinse and sanitize all utensils. Pans must be large enough to submerge all utensils.
  • Garbage container with tight fitting lid
  • Temporary Food Permit or
  • Mobile Vending Permit (Kitchen on wheels)
Farmers Market Vendor Permit
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  • $46.35 Monthly fee
  • Purchased by the Market Manager/Market Association
    Valid one day per week at the listed farmers market only (location specific)
    Come to 1901 S. Alamo
    Bring all pertinent information with you:
    • Market name and location along with day the market will operate
    • Food source information, if applicable
    • Valid Identification
All foods and or beverages prepared at the market for on-site consumption while the market is in operation.
  • Food handlers permit
  • Overhead protection
  • Floors, graded to drain, concrete, rolled asphalt, plywood or mats, removable platforms, duckboards or other suitable material approved by the regulatory authority
  • Potentially hazardous food items must be maintained at safe food temperatures (above 135oF for hot foods and below 41oF for cold foods)
  • Dispensed in a manner that will protect foods from contamination.
  • Water from an approved source
  • Gravity fed hand washing station (water, soap and paper towels)
  • No bare hand contact (utensils or gloves).
  • 3 pans to wash rinse and sanitize all utensils. Pans must be large enough to submerge all utensils.
  • Garbage container with tight fitting lid
  • Temporary Food Permit or
  • Mobile Vending Permit (Kitchen on wheels)

Provider Information

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Immunization repositories are confidential, computerized systems that contain vaccination histories within a geographic area. They help ensure that children receive the recommended vaccinations at the recommended ages. People often will move from doctor to doctor throughout their lifetime and the paper trail may become disjointed and incomplete. Electronic repositories can help doctors check a patient's immunization history through a centralized database, without relying on the patient for a paper record. Every state has at least one regional or

local immunization repository
.
Bexar County residents and has been operated by Metro Health since 1980. It currently contains over 1.3 million client records from over 300 Bexar County providers (public clinics, private practices, hospitals, pharmacies and schools).
  • It’s a lifespan repository: patients records are updated throughout their lifetime; consolidates vaccination records from multiple providers.
  • It’s a local repository: the quality of the data in the repository is closely monitored by the SAIRS Team.
  • It’s easily accessible online: you can access your patient’s immunization record from any internet connection.
  • It allows you to enter your own patient’s vaccine data (direct entry) into SAIRS: which equals up-to-date records, quality control and less paper!
  • It is capable of electronic data exchange (HL7): your certified electronic health record (EHR) system sends your patients’ immunization data directly to SAIRS. The SAIRS Team will work directly with your EHR vendor to set up the connection and attest your facility for Meaningful Use. For more information on HL7 and Meaningful Use, visit HealthIT.gov .
  • It has a Mentor Program for easy transitioning: the SAIRS Provider Relations Team will work directly with you and your staff.
  • It has more up-to-date records: the more providers that transition to direct entry or HL7 reporting equals more up-to-date records in SAIRS and results in less wasted resources and less over-immunizing.
  • All SAIRS users must sign a User Security and Confidentiality Agreement and comply with the SAIRS Security and Confidentiality Policy.
  • All SAIRS users must use assigned login ID and personal password to gain repository access.
  • SAIRS information can be restricted based on the user.
  • Only organizations with a legitimate purpose for reviewing or updating immunization records enroll into SAIRS.
  • All facilities enrolled in SAIRS must renew their information (including active users) at least once a year.

Enrollment is easy, fast, and FREE!

  • Step 1: Complete SAIRS Facility Enrollment Form for each clinic location. Ensure that Section 5 is signed by the person responsible for that facility’s SAIRS usage. Questions on how to fill out this form? Read the SAIRS Enrollment Instructions.
  • Step 2: Complete one SAIRS Security and Confidentiality Agreement (page 2 only) for each staff member who accesses SAIRS. NOTE: All SAIRS Users must provide an active email address to receive login information and SAIRS announcements. After submitting the form, if you did not receive a SAIRS email, check your spam folder. If the email is still not there, call the help desk at 210.207.5071.

Health Services

HL7 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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The SAIRS team will advise your clinic location when paper submission can stop.
Once you are advised to stop paper submission, SAIRS no longer needs those consent forms from your clinic. However, if you are a VFC provider, remember that you still must meet all VFC documentation requirements such as VFC eligibility, vaccine consent, vaccine refusals, VIS date, etc.

If your EMR system is down temporarily, you can use the SAMHD consent form and

  • Submit by mail, OR
  • Use for data entry once system recovers.

Please be sure to notify the SAIRS Team. If the system is down for an extended period of time, you can be quickly trained for direct entry reporting.

Yes. Your clinic should have at least one SAIRS user account (you cannot share). Passwords expire every 120 days. SAMHD will not accept record requests. Please call the help desk for all password issues at 210.207.5071.
The secondary contact will take over as the primary contact and a new secondary contact needs to be assigned. Please notify the SAIRS Team A.S.A.P.
Please direct all questions regarding meaningful use to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services or your EMR Vendor.
HL7 Electronic Data Exchange Information for EHR Vendor
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SAIRS can accept HL7 version 2.3.1 and 2.5.1. SAIRS prefers a real-time HL7 interface using a web service but it will also accept batched messages.
SAIRS will provide you or your client a Meaningful Use Stage 1/2/3 Attestation Acknowledgement letter when eligible and as requested.
SAIRS does not currently have a rollout waiting list. Contact us today!

Please direct all questions to:

SAIRS Team or 210.207.5071 and you will be transferred to the appropriate SAIRS Team Member.

HL7 Electronic Data Exchange Information for Providers
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HL7 (Health Level 7) is a standard technical language for communication between different health care systems. Specifically for the registry, the purpose is for the electronic data exchange between an immunization provider’s electronic health record (EHR) system and the San Antonio Immunization Registry System (SAIRS).

Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to:

  • Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities
  • Engage patients and family
  • Improve care coordination, and population and public health
  • Maintain privacy and security of patient health information

Reporting immunization information to an immunization registry is one of the two meaningful use public health objectives. (HealthIT.gov)

More information on the CMS EHR Incentive Program.

More information on how SAIRS handles Meaningful Use.

The first criterion is that you must administer vaccines to your patients, even if it is only the flu shot.

The next criterion is that you must capture in your EHR vaccine information, such as vaccine type (must be mapped to the standard CVX or CPT codes).

Depending on your EHR vendor, you may have to have a certain version or even purchase additional EHR options. The safest bet is to contact your EHR vendor and ask if your system is eligible.

You and your staff will greatly enjoy “going paperless” and in some cases, not entering vaccine information twice (once into your EHR and again into SAIRS). Your facility will no longer need to fill out and mail in the Vaccine Administration Consent Forms to Metro Health or complete direct entry tasks. SAIRS will be used solely for retrieving/ printing patient immunization records. You may also qualify for the CMS Meaningful Use EHR incentives.
The timeframe can vary between different EHR vendors and is dependent on many things. Direct contact information can help speed up the initial communication between SAIRS and the EHR vendor. After capabilities are figured out between the two groups, there is period of testing before your practice starts to actually send live immunization data to the registry. If your EHR vendor is already working with SAIRS, then you may expect very little delay.

Please direct all HL7-related questions to 210.207.5071 and you will be transferred to the appropriate SAIRS Team Member.

Healthy Environment FAQs

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No, any private pool at your residence does not require a permit from the City of San Antonio. Metro Health only licenses and inspects public and semi-public pools. To obtain a permit for a public or semi-public pool, visit the Development and Business Services Center, 1901 S. Alamo.
If you think you have an issue with mold at your residence and would like it to be tested, you will have to hire a private contractor. Contractors who test for and remediate mold can be located in the yellow pages under MOLD. The City of San Antonio does NOT have authority to force private property owners to remediate mold (e.g. apartment complexes or other rental property).
If you feel that your water has a quality issue and you are on a municipal supply, please contact your purveyor/water service provider (e.g. SAWS, Bexar Met, etc.).
Metro Health’s lab conducts testing on water samples for a fee. The cost is $20 for a bacterial test and $20 for a mineral test. You can call 210.207.8887 and have a kit mailed to your residence. Bring the sample to the lab at 332 W. Commerce, 2nd floor, Suite 201, and be prepared to pay for the test(s) at that time.
If you live in the City of San Antonio, please call 311, and if it is a sewer line break, please also contact SAWS at 210.704.7297. If the issue is taking place in Bexar County, please call Bexar County Public Works at 210.335.6700.
First, contact your apartment complex manager. If the manager is unresponsive, call 311.
If the illegal dumping was located in the City limits please call 311. If the issue is taking place in Bexar County please contact Bexar County Public Works at 210.335.6700.

Swimming Pools or Spas

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Pools are located in Chapter 15, Article VIII of the City Code. Per City Code, a public pool is defined as: Public swimming pool is any swimming pool, spa or sauna which is open to the general public.

A semi-public swimming pool is: (1) Any privately owned swimming pool or spa which is open to the general public for a fee; or (2) Any swimming or wading pool, spa or sauna, serving a private club, motel, hotel, apartment building, school, child care facility, recreational or physical fitness facility, institution, home owner's association, or other similar activity or structure, the use of which is limited to members, residents, students, or clients and their guests.

Any public or semi-public swimming pool or spa located in the City limits including: gyms/health clubs/spas, hotels/motels, homeowner’s association pools, hospital/physical therapy centers, and any other commercial property. County commercial pools or spas are exempt from fees but must apply for a license and be inspected prior to opening for business. County and City commercial pools will be re-inspected annually unless a complaint prompts a complaint investigation sooner. City-owned property is licensed and inspected, but are exempt from fees.
ALL private residential pools and hot tubs/Jacuzzis/spas in the City or County ARE EXEMPT.
Visit the State of Texas site for details.

If you have a complaint about a public or semi-public swimming pool or spa, call us at 210.207.8853 or email us.

List of City pools operated by the Parks and Recreation Department.
Bexar County derives its code regarding public and semi-public pools and spas directly from the State. Metro Health provides inspection and enforcement of these regulations on behalf of the County.
Read about the basic guidelines regarding pool regulations.
Read the latest guidelines from the National Swimming Pool Foundation.

Vector Control FAQs

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No, the City does not treat private property for vermin or insects.
Do not disturb them. The City does not treat private property for bees. Contact a licensed pest control service to remove them from your structure.
You can report this to 311 to report the problem.
The City does not have authority to treat private property for bats. The Vector Control program can only inspect your private property and, with the owner’s permission, make recommendations. You will need to hire a private company to treat your property. If the bats are living in an occupied dwelling, it is recommended that they be excluded from the building by sealing all entry points. Bat species are protected by State Law and should be left alone if they are not in an occupied building and not a threat to humans.
The City does not treat private property for mosquitoes. It is possible that they are originating from your property. Make sure you do not have standing water on the ground or containers that are holding water. These are common breeding places for mosquitoes. Questions? Call Vector Control at 210.207.8853.

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