COVID-19 vaccine distribution at PSJA causes confusion over “tickets”

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from PSJA ISD officials.

Edinburg, Texas (KVEO)—The initial excitement over COVID-19 vaccines has given way to confusion for some people that went to get vaccinated in San Juan Thursday morning.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: COVID-19 vaccination distribution in the RGV

On Tuesday, Hidalgo County health officials, in conjunction with Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, announced they would host a community COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday Jan. 13 and Thursday Jan. 14.

The clinic was to be held at PSJA Early College High School. The county said officials would begin administering the Moderna vaccinations beginning at 8 a.m. on a first come, first served basis.

The County said there would be a limited number of doses available, and that the clinic would run until vaccinations were depleted.

Hidalgo County released the following information on the distribution clinic on Jan.12.

KVEO began receiving calls from concerned residents stating they were turned away from the clinic at PSJA Early College High School because they did not have a ticket.

Residents were told by health officials on the site that they supposed to get tickets on Wednesday Jan. 13 at 5 p.m.

“We got to the site and were told by police at the entrance to go away,” said an angry caller. “I don’t understand what is going on. We were not told that we needed a ticket to get vaccinated.”

PSJA announcement of tickets on district website

According to Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, county officials were unaware that the district and the city had planned to give out tickets the day before and that it was a requirement to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination at PSJA.

“We are just learning about this. The district didn’t mean any harm by it, they wanted to be organized.” said Cortez. “Residents must understand that we are in a very difficult situation and there is a high demand of vaccine and short supplies. I am working to get more for our county.”

Hidalgo County Judge tests positive for COVID-19

KVEO reached out to PSJA ISD for comment and they provided the following statement:

We apologize for any confusion. Tickets for Day 1 of the clinic were provided to individuals who came one day prior to us opening the vaccine clinic. To prevent a high number of people staying over night, they were given tickets to secure their opportunity for vaccination.

For Day 2 of the clinic, an announcement was made to the community via our website and social outlets letting them know tickets would be distributed starting at 5 pm. We hope to continue to provide this service to our county, and will continue to improve to expedite the process.

We are grateful for this opportunity to provide 2,000+ vaccines to our community during a two-day period. As well as PSJA nurses, police officers, security, custodians and support staff assisting in this operation.

The CDC determines how many doses of vaccine Texas will receive each week, based on population. Once the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is notified of the number of doses expected the following week, DSHS staff presents possibilities for vaccine distribution to the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP).

The panel makes modifications and recommendations to the Commissioner of Health, who makes the final decision on that week’s distribution.

As of of Thursday, the Rio Grande Valley has hosted eight COVID-19 vaccination allocations.

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