CAMERON COUNTY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — People living in the colonias, the most rural parts of the Rio Grande Valley, are in need of need help fighting COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of barriers Colonia residents face,” LUPE Organizer Jacqueline Arias said. “Like a lack of transportation, there’s not a lot of clinics out here [and] there’s you know fear, there’s still misinformation.”

Arias has been working with the nonprofit organization, LUPE, for about a year.

She tells Local 23 News, they have been largely focused on getting resources to colonias in Hidalgo and Cameron Counties since the start of the pandemic.

Most recently, she’s been leading efforts to get colonias vaccinated against COVID-19.

She says those living in the Colonia Aurora Valley, just outside of Donna in Hidalgo County, are desperate for help.

“We directly go to Colonia residents and our members to vaccinate them,” Arias said.

She also tells Local 23 News, “besides canvassing, we’ve also done text and phone banking, and we’re also working with the county and local pharmacies to bring vaccine clinics directly to Colonias.”

Over the past 6 months, LUPE has helped organize three COVID-19 vaccine clinics in the Colonia Aurora Valley. In partnership with the Hidalgo County Health Department, along with local pharmacies, 111 people were vaccinated.

Arias says, a $200,00 grant from the Made to Save Program, made those vaccine clinics possible.

The grant paid for canvassing teams, phone banks, and supplies to host the clinics.

But, that money has run out.

“We saw a lot of pregnant women concerned but you know, willing,” Arias said. “These folks are willing it’s just they need the information to them-people to go to them-and since it’s so rural, far away from the city, folks don’t get that information, and I think that’s where that void is.”

Now, Arias says she wants the county to step in to help those living in rural areas.

“We did try to have vaccine efforts and outreach pretty much everywhere,” Hidalgo County Precinct One County Commissioner David Fuente said. “The reason that was really important to us was because of, you know, a lot of times we find accessibility is a problem.”

Commissioner Fuentes represents the Colonia Aurora Valley.

He tells Local 23 News it takes planning and patience to get people vaccinated.

“I will say that if there is an effort and a will, we will work together,” Fuentes said. “All they have to do is call our office, ask to speak with Pepe because he does a lot of the coordination with Colonias and outreach out there. We would listen to what their request is, we would assess as to whether we could participate, [and] how we could do it.”

But, there are still challenges facing colonia residents.

“It shouldn’t be left to nonprofits to fill that void that the government needs to fill,” Arias said. “By going directly to folks to vaccinate them, you know unfortunately that’s what it’s led to, but honestly the most effective way would be going door to door to folks, that’s actually what they do in Mexico to vaccinate people.”

The county isn’t going door to door right now, and Commissioner Fuentes says, it’s just not feasible and suggests taking a roll call.

“The most important thing is getting it out there,” Commissioner Fuentes said. “So the county will continue to support, you know, trying to make sure we get more of this vaccine out there, to more people … so anything that helps us get there, we’ll find a way to figure out how we can do it.”