As part of a bi-national effort to vaccinate Mexican nationals along the border, Mexican health authorities vaccinated approximately 13,000 individuals on Wednesday and expect to vaccinate about 60,000 by the end of the week.
The push to vaccinate residents on the Mexican side of the border has been started through, at least, two programs — one launched by Hidalgo County officials earlier this month and one run by the Mexican government with the help of vaccine doses donated by the U.S. federal government.
It was through the latter that those 13,000 residents were able to receive a vaccine on Wednesday, according Aldo Hernandez, a spokesman for INDEX Reynosa, an association for the maquiladora industry.
“The original plan is to get more people on the Mexican side vaccinated in order to open the border in the near future,” Hernandez said.
Mexican officials announced their intent in June to use the 1 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine donated by the U.S. to vaccinate residents along their northern border.
“The program started in Tijuana, actually in Baja California, and they’ve been moving along the states and this is, I think, the last state,” Hernandez said.
The doses are being administered exclusively for residents of border cities between 18 and 39 years old. In Tamaulipas, INDEX Reynosa is working with health officials to administer the doses.
Two of their largest maquiladoras, LG Electronics and Corning Optical Communication, are hosting the vaccine sites and other companies — such as Spring Windows, BCS, Johnson Controls, Regal, Cequent, Commscope, Emerson, Starion, Imaq, Newoptics, Saint Gobain, Season Group, BBB, Eaton, and Hospitals Santander and Muguerza — are also assisting with personnel and supplies, according to a news release.
The program is scheduled to run for four days, through Saturday.
While that program is open to all residents there within that age range, another program launched earlier this month by Hidalgo County focuses specifically on maquiladora employees.
Through that initiative, INDEX Reynosa transports maquiladora workers across the border where employees with the county’s health department administer doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to those employees.
Dubbed the “Essential Economic Trade Initiative,” the program uses vaccine doses that are about to expire.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez assured residents that the program would not be taking away doses from U.S. citizens.
“I want to make it clear that no U.S. citizen will be denied any vaccine, for anyone who wants one can get one from our area hospitals, private pharmacies, UTRGV or even our Hidalgo County clinics,” Cortez said during a news conference during which county officials announced the launch of the initiative.
The vaccines are administered from Monday through Thursday each week and about 700 to 900 maquiladora workers are inoculated on a daily basis, according to Carlos Sanchez, a county spokesman.