HARLINGEN — Jonathan Salinas sat calmly in his vehicle, the engine idling as a nurse from the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy vaccinated him against COVID-19.
“I’m just glad that it’s getting this out of the way now,” said Jonathan, 16, a junior at Harlingen High School.
About 1,000 Harlingen students and their parents were scheduled to get their shots Friday morning at the Pfizer Vaccination Clinic organized by the City of Harlingen. Early Friday, lines of cars began driving through the parking lot of the Harlingen Convention Center for the shots.
“Hi, how are you?” said a cheerful Michelle Davies, health services coordinator for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District.
She was speaking to a woman who’d just pulled up in her vehicle to get the shot. The woman had a young passenger. Both were getting vaccinated.
“Can you put this car in park?” Davies asked. “Can you tell me your name and date of birth?”
Soon she unsheathed a needle, said, “One-two-three stick” and delivered the shot. The woman’s passenger also received the injection. Davies then instructed them to pull into the parking lot for 15 minutes to watch for any reaction.
Davies said the school district had partnered with the City of Harlingen to hold the clinic.
“We’ve got nurses on the ground and we started helping the city when the clinics started with the COVID vaccine,” she said. “We handed out 1,000 wrist bands. We had extra vaccines so we opened it up to everybody. We’re giving over 2,000 vaccinations.”
The response at 6 a.m. when the clinic opened was encouraging, said Josh Ramirez, city health director.
“We had a large crowd come through,” Ramirez said. “I think it was those going to work.”
He was glad to see high school students age 16 and over getting their shots.
“It’s going to help the students get into activities more often,” he said. “It’s going to open up more of the fun stuff that they’re eager to get into, some of the sports. That’s why we encourage them to come get the vaccination.”
The city had also coordinated with the Harlingen Fire Department and EMS to help out. Harlingen Fire Chief Rafael Balderas said the department was directing traffic and also giving injections.
“It’s great to be part of the Harlingen team,” Balderas said. “This is a city event, a city goal that we have to vaccinate as many people as we can.”
Davies said giving school nurses the chance to be involved in the solution to the COVID dilemma was important.
“We are blessed to have the opportunity to have a positive effect on the health of our students and their families,” Davies said.
Nurses echoed that sentiment.
“This is something that parents and students have been requesting for a few months now,” said Patty De Leon, RN at Harlingen High School.
“I’m just happy that we are finally giving them the chance to get it,” she said.
Sophia Cano and her daughter Destiny Angel Ledesma had just received their shots.
“I wish it would have been available before because we both got coronavirus and it was pretty bad,” she said. “Thank God they came up with a vaccine for it. Everybody’s got to take it seriously.”
Destiny said she was “really happy.” Life under COVID and its accompanying isolation has not been easy.
“It’s not been good for my mental health, I think,” she said. “I’ve lost a lot of connections with my friends.”
She looks forward to reestablishing those connections soon.