COVID-19 vaccine rollout remains a concern in the Rio Grande Valley

Local News

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the McKesson distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, Pool)

Alamo, Texas (KVEO)—Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the people eligible to receive it has proven to be far from easy in the Rio Grande Valley.

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

The vaccine’s rollout has been flawed by poor messaging from state officials, logistic issues, and technical errors.

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD announced Monday night they were partnering with Donna ISD during Tuesday’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic at PSJA Memorial Early College High School.

In a news release, it was said Donna ISD school district nurses, police, communications, and maintenance personnel would be working with PSJA ISD assisting with the operation.

Donna ISD Superintendent Dr. Hafedh Azaiez said during an interview, the district learned about the COVID-19 vaccination event held in PSJA Memorial the week before the event.

DHR to distribute second dose of Moderna vaccinations

“We had several meetings last week; we knew that the County was receiving about a 1,000 doses or so,” said Azaiez. “We decided it would be best for us to have this joint event, to learn from each other and support each other out.”

KVEO learned about Tuesday’s vaccination clinic on Monday at noon in a press release from Hidalgo County. The county said wristbands would be distributed starting at 5 p.m., just five hours after the release went out, to all who qualified.

Residents began lining up at 2 p.m. Monday, hoping to get a wristband.

Residents, who qualify, line up for wristbands distribution on Jan. 25. Wristbands were needed to receive COVID-19 vaccine at PSJA Tuesday Jan. 26.

It has been unclear who is receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. After state officials had expressed concern vaccines were going unused and urged providers to give them to anyone who was eligible, many who met the qualifications tell KVEO they are finding it difficult to receive a vaccine.

Azaiez said the information that gets released comes from county officials.

“As a district we were not part of the information. The press release from us came in at 6 p.m., but the release to get the vaccine it came from the county,” said Azaiez. “We are not the main organizer.”

How the COVID-19 distribution works, is that a state panel sets their own eligibility guidelines based on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From there, state officials would allocate an appropriate number of vaccine doses to providers, such as pharmacies, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and medical clinics. 

Hidalgo County Commissioner Pct. 1 David Fuentes said county officials receive the information from the state a couple of days prior on when and how many doses they will be receiving for distribution.

“Once we know how much the state is going to allocate for us, then we finalize plans with our partners to let them know what is going down the pipeline,” said Fuentes. “We need to organize our staff, we need to coordinate pre-registration, so a lot of the times is kind of a very last minute kind of thing.”

So, how far in advanced are county officials notified by the state as to when they will receive the vaccines?

“So it might be as late as we get the notification on Friday, for distribution on Tuesday.” said Fuentes.

Once the county has received the information on how many vaccines they will be receiving, officials finalize the coordination of effort, according to Fuentes.

“Certainly we would like to have more preparation right now because the limited number of vaccines that we get,” said Fuentes. “We just have to wait for the state to finalize everything with us and once we are able to pass that information, we will.”

Fuentes added the county does not want to create a situation where they have more people expecting the vaccine and not enough doses.

“The state holds us responsible for getting these vaccines out, if we don’t show that the proper usage was made or that we didn’t roll it out appropriately, then we don’t get the next round,” said Fuentes.

A spokesperson from the county told KVEO, they are announcing the vaccines day by day, to avoid overcrowding and disorganization.

Last week, Chief Administrative Officer for Hidalgo County Eddie Olivarez said 17,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be arriving to Hidalgo County.

The next vaccination event in Hidalgo County will take place in the city Edinburg on Wednesday, January 27.

City of Edinburg, Hidalgo County, Edinburg CISD, to host COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Wednesday

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