HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — According to the CDC, Texas has the third-lowest percentage of people with at least one COVID-19 vaccine in the country.

The Rio Grande Valley is the fifth largest trauma service area (TSA) in Texas, coming in behind the major cities in the state.

  1. TSA ‘E’: DFW metroplex
  2. TSA ‘Q’: Houston metroplex
  3. TSA ‘P’: San Antonio metroplex
  4. TSA ‘O’: Austin metroplex
  5. TSA ‘V’: Rio Grande Valley

According to the Department of State Health Services, just under 25% of the population over the age of 16 in the Rio Grande Valley has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

“It’s certainly possible to have done better, and it doesn’t mean we can’t do better going forward over the next few months,” said Dr. James Castillo, the Cameron County health authority.

Of those TSAs, the Rio Grande Valley actually has the highest percent of people at least partially vaccinated. To find the percent of the population at least partially vaccinated, KVEO took the ‘people vaccinated with at least one dose’ divided by the ‘people over 16 years of age and older’ and multiplied by 100 to get the following percentages.

Top 10 largest population centers in Texas Percent of population at least partially vaccinated
Dallas/ Fort Worth18.31%
Houston17.43%
San Antonio22.11%
Rio Grande Valley24.52%
Galveston/ East Texas17.51%
Tyler/ Longview13.26%
El Paso26.53%
Corpus Christi27.4%
Odessa-Midland29.34%
Based on DSHS statistics for their respective TSAs

A quarter of the population being vaccinated is a good start. However, Castillo said that the number of people who are vaccinated needs to be higher before health officials feel more optimistic about not having another surge of hospitalizations and deaths.

“If we want to talk about, again, a surge in deaths and hospitalizations, it’s going to be 70-90% of the highest-risk individuals being vaccinated,” he said.

To do its part to increase the number of people vaccinated, the state of Texas will begin allowing a wider age range to be eligible for the vaccines starting on March 15.

Castillo said widening the age range was the next best step because “age has been one of the biggest factors for COVID in terms of severe disease and death.”

He said that allowing more adults to get the vaccine will help speed up the process but, “we will not get to 70 to 90 percent people vaccinated in the next month or two. But we could get to a number like that in the high-risk individuals.”

Until the number of people vaccinated that doctors believe would allow for things to return to normal is reached, they’re urging everyone to continue doing what they know works.

“Until there’s very, very little virus circulating in our community, still wear masks when around people not from your own household, or when you’re out in public,” said Castillo.