HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Teens aged 12 through 15 have been able to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine since May 12.

The Rio Grande Valley was one of the hardest-hit regions during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, at one point being the hot spot of the entire state.

“Everyone’s been touched down here, directly or indirectly, by the tremendous impact that we’ve had during the last year. Everyone knows the stuff we went through,” said Dr. Ivan Melendez, the Hidalgo County health authority.

Now, communities along the U.S.-Mexico border have the highest percentage of people 12 and over with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in the state. 

“One out of every nine households is multigenerational, one of every three bedrooms in the county, more than one person is sleeping in them,” explained Melendez when talking about why it was so important everyone in a family get vaccinated. “So we knew [children] were important carriers of this disease, especially when 80% of them were completely asymptomatic.”

The Department of State Health Services shows that Hidalgo County has 69% of the population 12 and over at least partially vaccinated, Cameron County at 71%, and Starr County at 77%.

Willacy County is the county in the RGV with the lowest percent of people vaccinated, with 55% of people 12 and over having at least one dose of a vaccine.

Melendez said the number of teens getting COVID vaccines is on track to where we should be after a little under a month of it being available to them.

“We’ve had thousands,” said Melendez. “A week ago, there was over 4,000 that were given to the population group, so I think its a pretty good number. I think its only going to increase.”

Melendez said continued vaccinations of young teens is important for everything to return to normal before the fall semester starts.

“We had to capture those people that were less than 18 years old in order for us to reach that statistical, mathematical number. So, its crucially important for us to get community global immunity to capture this particular age group,” said Melendez.

He also added that the data has shown that the vaccines are safe and effective.