DONNA, Texas (KVEO) — The U.S. may not reach herd immunity because a good portion of its population is hesitant to get the vaccine, experts say. A local pharmacy is now attempting to encourage individuals to obtain the vaccine by making it as accessible as they can.
According to state health data, in Hidalgo County, just about one-third of the population is fully vaccinated, while just under 50% have received at least one dose.
Richard’s Pharmacy in Donna has been administering the Moderna vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but lately, the number of shots administered has slowed down.
Registered pharmacist Yvonne Margo says interest in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine dropped significantly following reports of blood clots.
In the weeks since it was reinstated, supply has been outpacing demand – leading them to discard a couple of doses a week.
“When [patients] are here and they don’t know, I do go ahead and alert them that we have Moderna and Johnson & Johnson,” she said. “Some of them are skeptical about Johnson & Johnson, which I totally understand, but that’s why they have a choice.”
To minimize the waste, Richard’s partners with the city and other pharmacies.
“Our staff is great, they always try to call people, anybody that comes in to pick up a prescription, they always ask them,” she said. “We give out flyers, so they know we have them.
“We call the city so the city knows. We put an email blast with the city of donna and the surrounding areas that way they know it’s available here.”
All doses transferred to other pharmacies and administered are reported to state and federal authorities daily.
And though some people are hesitant about the Johnson & Johnson, she said this vaccine is popular among people in certain professions, like truckers whose schedules make it difficult to return for a second dose.
In addition to offering the choice as to which vaccine they can get, they have also begun accepting walk-ins to encourage more people to get the shot.
This initiative came ahead of President Biden’s directive this week for thousands of pharmacies to provide no-appointment-required shots to counter any vaccine hesitancy.
“We’re just trying to make it as simple as possible so that everyone can get vaccinated,” Margo said. “I don’t want the fact that they don’t own a computer or access to the internet to be an issue. They can come here; we can take care of it here.
“We have the copies. We can help them fill it out. That should not be an issue at all.”
For anyone interested in getting vaccinated, Richard’s Pharmacy in Donna is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you’d like to fill it out ahead, you can download the consent form here.