El Paso targets cross-border truckers for COVID-19 vaccines

Border Report

Commercial drivers hauling loads from U.S.-run plants in Mexico get flyers inviting them to get free shots at Civic Center, other venues

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso is inviting cross-border truckers to get free COVID-19 vaccinations at local venues where country of residence is not an issue.

City employees are handing out an average of 70 flyers on the U.S. side of the Ysleta-Zaragoza and Bridge of the Americas ports of entry to drivers hauling commercial loads from Mexico, Assistant Fire Chief Jorge Rodriguez said.

The city also placed a sign near the Bridge of the Americas and is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure word is passed along.

“The drivers themselves communicate by radio with each other. […] They’re being informed through pamphlets and word-of-mouth campaign,” Rodriguez said.

Many of the 800 to 1,000 truck drivers that come across the El Paso-Juarez ports of entry are citizens of Mexico who are considered essential workers and never stopped coming across during the pandemic.

Some who work for the U.S.-run manufacturing plants in Juarez, known as maquiladoras, make two to three runs per day, so ensuring their immunity to the virus is the priority of the emergency campaign.

One of the best-known temporary vaccination venues is the El Paso Convention Center in downtown El Paso.

El Paso and Juarez have been hard hit by the pandemic, but the numbers have dropped in the past few months as vaccination rates soar, particularly in El Paso.

The city, as of Wednesday, had recorded 136,303 coronavirus infections and 2,624 fatalities, compared to Juarez’s 32,089 cases and 3,393 deaths.

El Paso, as of Thursday, had fully vaccinated 83.2 percent of those over 65 years old and 57.8 percent of everyone 12 years and up. City officials say the city might be weeks away from reaching herd immunity, but persuading stragglers to get immunized needs to remain a priority.

El Paso County vaccination rates continue to rise. (courtesy City of El Paso)

“We’re narrowing the population not vaccinated and talking to them at length (through) an interview process to dispel conspiracy theories. We’re targeting parents at different locations to provide all the information they need,” said El Paso Public Health Director Angela Mora.

Dr. Arturo Valenzuela

Juarez — and all of Mexico — fell short of previously stated goals of having widespread vaccination by April, but have since substantially picked up the pace.

The state of Chihuahua last month surpassed the 1 million mark in terms of vaccines applied and is expecting to get half a million doses from the United States in the next few weeks. Those vaccines would go to people 18 years old to 39 years old in Juarez.

Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, state health director in Juarez, on Thursday said there’s still no date for the arrival and distribution of the vaccines, but registration has begun, nonetheless.

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