COVID-19 vaccination lines stretch for kilometers in Baja; Indications are border remains closed another month

Border Report

Citizens in cars attend the drive-in vaccination center to receive the U.S. donated Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19 at Universidad de Baja California on June 17, 2021 in Tijuana, Baja California. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images)

TIJUANA (Border Report) — Since the state of Baja California began vaccinating those 18 and older with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the rush to get inoculated has generated lines measured in kilometers at some sites, according to state health officials.

At some locations, people had begun to line up on foot or in cars days before the vaccines were scheduled to be given starting Thursday morning.

But one man named, Mario, said he lined up at a place only to be surprised by the lack of people waiting.

A group of friends stay overnight in their car to be the first ones to be vaccinated outside the University of Baja California on June 16, 2021 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images)

“I got here yesterday at 6:30 in the afternoon (Wednesday) trying to avoid a lot of people, but when I got here there was nobody, I was the first one,” he said. “My parents are vaccinated already, my siblings are already vaccinated because they work taking care of seniors and they got the vaccine at work.”

Mario considers himself lucky because no one in his family got the virus.

“Jobs were lost because restaurants closed, many options for work also closed, a lot of us were affected since we could not earn any pay,” he said. “We had no money so we had to start charging buying on credit, but that was the worst of it.”

Baja California’s Health Secretary placed 16 vaccination sites at various cities throughout the state and opened them at the same time, but in the city of Mexicali, where temperatures are exceeding 110 degrees, hours of operation have shifted to the evening from 6 p.m. till midnight.

Once people have been vaccinated, 14 days must pass to acquire immunity. People are being advised to continue with prevention protocols such as wearing facemasks and maintaining social distancing.

“We are saying that once vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after 14 days people should have generated enough antibodies to start enjoying immunity,” said Alonso Pérez Rico, Baja’s Secretary of Health.

Pérez Rico says the target is to vaccinate 135,000 people per day with a goal of inoculating 1.35 million people in a 10-day period.

Citizens in cars attend the drive-in vaccination center to receive the U.S. donated Johnson & Johnson vaccine against Covid-19 at Universidad de Baja California on June 17, 2021, in Tijuana, Baja California. After the visit of Vice president Harris to Mexico, the U.S. sent a donation of 1.35 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccines will be administrated to anyone over 18 in 39 towns from the Mexican side of the border with the United States. The aim of the project is to boost vaccination rates to level of the American cities across the border. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images)

“With the shipment from the United States we should be able to get to 75 percent herd immunity, which is something the Americans are insisting on before we can open the border between Tijuana and the United States,” he said.

The southern border, including the stretch between Tijuana and San Diego has been under cross-border restrictions for almost 15 months.

“Best case scenario, I’m guessing by the middle or end of July we will be tentatively talking about opening the border, but the truth is once the last of the citizens gets one of the 1.3 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines, we still have to wait to 14 days,” said Pérez Rico.

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