HARLINGEN — Across Cameron County, residents are rolling up their sleeves to get their COVID-19 shots as Texas health officials boost the state’s vaccine supply to begin targeting the general public.

In Harlingen, state health officials today are helping the city hold its first vaccination clinic open to adults 18 and older, sending the city its first direct vaccine shipment.

“The state was able to receive a larger allocation,” Josh Ramirez, the city’s public health director, said Tuesday. “For anyone who wants to get vaccinated — it’s the time.”

However, the state’s growing vaccine supply hasn’t trickled to Cameron County, which has received 6,000 weekly doses for about three months, Melissa Elizardi, the county’s spokeswoman, said.

Since mid March, manufacturers’ ramped up production has led the federal government to bump up Texas’ vaccine shipments from 1.2 million to 1.7 million this week, Lara Anton, a spokeswoman with the state health department, stated Tuesday.

During the last month, the state has also expanded its network of approved vaccine providers from 445 in 178 counties to 2,011 in 200 counties.

Meanwhile, the federal government continues to directly ship vaccine to retail pharmacies, dialysis centers and health centers.

“Every week for the last month, we’ve seen an increase in the number of doses of vaccine the state has to allocate to providers,” Anton stated. “We expect that we will continue to see an increase in doses allocated to the state in coming weeks.”

State helps Harlingen set up for its biggest clinic today

In Harlingen, officials today will hold their biggest vaccination clinic after the county set aside 2,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine while the state shipped 500 doses, marking its first direct shipment to the city.

“The more vaccine we get directly will help us administer more vaccine,” Ramirez said. “It’s all for the general population.”

The clinic set for the Harlingen Convention Center will run from 6 a.m. to noon.

On Tuesday, hundreds lined up at the convention center to pick up wrist bracelets setting them up into one of three vaccination groups as part of a plan aimed at cutting down waiting time.

Port Isabel holds clinic today for Laguna Madre area

In Port Isabel, officials today will hold their first vaccination clinic open to adults 18 and older, planning to distribute 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, City Manager Jared Hockema said.

The clinic, he said, will serve the areas Port Isabel, South Padre Island, Laguna Vista and Los Fresnos.

Officials have already pre-registered people for their vaccinations, he said.

“We do registration continuously,” Hockema said.

Wristbands were handed out to residents 18 years of age and older at the Harlingen Convention Center yesterday. Three thousand first doses of the Moderna Vaccine will be administered today in three sessions. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

Willacy County sets Friday clinic

In Raymondville, Willacy County officials will hold their first vaccination clinic open to adults 18 and older on Friday, when they plan to administer 1,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine at Raymondville Early College High School, Deputy Superintendent Ben Clinton said.

Officials will be registering online and through phone banks into Thursday, he said.

Meanwhile, officials continue holding smaller vaccination clinics throughout the area.

On Tuesday, they administered 60 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to employees of the New Day Resiliency Center, a new shelter housing migrant children, Clinton said.

Today, officials are planning to administer 120 doses of Moderna vaccine at Pittman Elementary School, he said.

“Our superintendent’s intent is to reach herd immunity as quickly as possible,” Clinton said, referring to Superintendent Stetson Roane’s push to vaccinate as much as 70 percent of the population in this county of about 22,000 residents.

“We’re holding these vaccination clinics with the intent of cutting the COVID-19 death rate to zero,” Clinton said.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com