EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Juarez on Wednesday, and several front-line health workers received the first shots.
“It’s a great day … we started vaccinating healthcare workers,” said Dr. Arturo Valenzuela, head of the Chihuahua state Health Department in Juarez. “This is but one step toward (controlling) the pandemic, but like we’ve been saying, the best vaccine is prevention.”
The Mexican government flew in 14,625 vaccines to the state capital of Chihuahua City on Tuesday evening. Health officials said the Mexican Army is keeping a tight control on the distribution, so they didn’t immediately know how many vaccines each public hospital in Juarez received.
Health workers have to be on a priority list submitted by each hospital’s director and vetted by Mexican federal officials.
On Wednesday morning, state officials transmitted on Facebook Live how some health workers in Chihuahua City were getting their shots. None showed a negative reaction to the vaccine.
The state will get an additional shipment of vaccines the week of Jan. 19 and a third batch the week of Jan. 25, said Dr. Wendy Avila, deputy coordinator of preventive health services in the state. All those doses are still expected to go to front-line health care workers.
Valenzuela said the general population would get vaccines according to a previously released priority list kept by the federal government. The list shows health workers have first priority, followed by people over 80 years old, then those 70 and up and so on.
He said it will be difficult to vaccinate migrants in transit because people will need to sign up for a vaccine and wait an undetermined amount of time to be called. “If they’re here only temporarily, they’ll be gone when their time (to get the vaccine) comes,” he said.
Valenzuela said state officials have been pleasantly surprised by having only a mild post-holidays COVID-19 spike. Chihuahua on Wednesday reported 177 new cases and 29 fatalities. Most of the new cases were reported in Juarez (102), which added eight fatalities to its grim tally.