HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) – In the Rio Grande Valley, approximately only half of people that received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine have returned to get the second dose, according to the Department of State Health Services data
“We had about 300 people did not show up for second dose vaccine,” said Josh Ramirez, health director of the city of Harlingen.
Ramirez said that one of the reasons for the low return rate is because some are traveling and will “get it when they come back,” such as Winter Texans and migrant workers.
Mainly people in their late 30s to early 50s have not received their second dose because they are busy with work, according to Ramirez.
Cameron County Health Authority Dr. James Castillo said that another factor is the fear of side effects.
“There’s probably some people who are worried about getting the second dose and maybe that’s a reason they’re hesitant to come back,” said Castillo.
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“Now, these past clinics we’ve been having it’s been hard to have enough people to use the vaccines that we have,” said Cijo James, pharmacist at Popular Pharmacy.
James said that another group that has been difficult to reach is young adults, many have been working with school districts to reach them.
“So many young adults that are not getting the vaccine,” said James. “They need to get vaccinated to go back to school.”
An independent clinic in Starr County said that in the beginning they had too many patients to see, and now it has been a struggle to get people to show up.
Ramirez, James and Castillo said that receiving the vaccine is important to stop the spread of COVID-19 and prevent variants from mutating.
Despite the low return rate, Harlingen was awarded $1.4 million in a state grant to contribute to a mobile unit to vaccinate those who are home-bound or cannot easily access a vaccine clinic.
Additionally, Harlingen was given over 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the state of Texas.
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However, if hundreds of people are not showing up for their second dose vaccine, where do they go?
“What we do is we ask the state to re-designate those second doses as first doses, so that way we can go and give it to somebody who’s waiting on their first dose,” said Castillo.
As for Harlingen, their grant is focused on producing a mobile clinic and Ramirez said that despite the low return rate, they plan to start visiting businesses and going directly to people.