HARLINGEN — Jadyn Portales, 12, rubbed the bandage on her right arm.
She’d just received the Pfizer vaccine Saturday afternoon at the Back-to-School Vaccine Clinic for 12 and Older coordinated by the City of Harlingen.
The clinic at the Harlingen Convention Center began at noon and continued until 4 p.m. Cars full of families big and small pulled into a drive-through where nurses administered shots for both public school and university students. The timing is especially significant in light of the delta variant.
“We’re offering Pfizer and Moderna,” said Josh Ramirez, health director for the City of Harlingen. He was referring to the COVID vaccines offered by the two companies.
The Moderna shot was being offered to individuals ages 18 and older. The Pfizer vaccination has been approved for children ages 12 to 17.
“We’re asking parents to bring their children before they go back to school,” Ramirez said. “It’s important now that we’re experiencing some of the other variants coming to the Valley. We want to be sure our students are prepared to go back to school and protect other students and their teachers as well.”
At about 2 p.m. more than 150 shots had been administered.
Jadyn, a seventh grader at Gutierrez Middle School of Arts and Sciences, hadn’t wanted to get the shot. Not because she had concerns about its safety, but “just because I don’t like shots.”
Her grandfather, Ranulfo, already had the shot. He’d spent some time convincing his granddaughter.
“I’m glad it came up because for awhile there I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get it done or not,” he said as he sat in his truck with his granddaughter.
When the delta variant finally swept into the Valley last week, his concern became even more critical.
“That’s why I’ve been trying to push her to get the shot,” he said. “She didn’t want to get it, but I’ve been trying to get her to understand she needs it.”
Dr. Ameer Hassan, head of the neuroscience department at Valley Baptist Medical Center, has emphasized the importance of vaccination against COVID even as variants arise. Just last week, he affirmed again that the vaccine can aid in the fight against the delta variant. Those who are fully vaccinated can still catch the delta, but they are less likely to suffer severe symptoms or require hospitalization, experts say.
Christa Lopez was moving swiftly from car to car giving the shots.
“The turnout has been pretty steady,” said Lopez, a member of the UTRGV pre-Physician’s Assistant Society.
“Honestly for me it’s been very fulfilling,” she said. “I was fortunate enough to get trained by the public health department in Brownsville to be trained to administer the COVID vaccine shots. I feel very proud that I can do that for my community.”