RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Most people are learning about vaccination events when they’re posted online, but studies show the Rio Grande Valley is home to the top city in the nation not connected to the internet.
Experts say there is a gap in reaching these communities.
“What we are seeing right now around the state is that when you sign up for an appointment for a vaccine, it’s almost inevitably via the internet,” said CEO and President of the Children At Risk nonprofit, Dr. Bob Sanborn.
Sanborn says the RGV has the lowest vaccination rates in Texas with some parts only having three to four percent vaccinated.
Having online registration for vaccine clinics makes sense, but in the valley, also presents a challenge.
“Brownsville ranked as the least connected city in the country with 64% not having access to things broadband,” said vice president of community investment Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Jordana Barton.
“When you have areas where either there’s high poverty or rural area, that’s not going to be the first choice for investing in broadband infrastructure.”
Brownsville received a grant that will help install fiber internet, which is the fastest method of internet service.
This grant will also contribute to the students’ connectivity and teaching community members about digital literacy.
However, Sanborn says that low vaccination rates are also because a lot of people are unsure about it. He says over 60% of the RGV says they are unsure or won’t take the vaccine.
“When we look at those communities, we see a lot of the research showing here’s a group that is really hesitant to take this vaccination,” said Sanborn.
Sanborn found that communities in the RGV don’t trust government services, and have misinformation about vaccine distribution.
“When you don’t have that and don’t have access to information on how to get the appointment then it becomes a hindrance to that quality health care that we want all of our population to have,” said Sanborn.