SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A cross-border effort to vaccinate 10,000 maquiladora workers employed in Tijuana, Mexico has begun at a site just north of the border at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Six companies with American ownership are paying for the vaccines and related costs associated with getting their employees inoculated.

The Mexican Consulate, County of San Diego and UC San Diego Health are also involved in this pilot program. The state of California is offering its support and is providing excess vaccines.

“This example of trans-border collaboration truly symbolizes the notion that although we are two countries we are in fact one region,” said Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez. “Local partners in the border area are best suited to reach innovative regional solutions to binational challenges such as COVID-19.”

Maquiladora worker from Tijuana, Mexico gets COVID-19 vaccine from UC San Diego Health personnel. (Courtesy: UC San Diego Health)

Because of the complex logistics required to vaccinate 10,000 people, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was selected for this clinic. The goal is to vaccinate 1,500 workers every other day within a week period of time.

“We continue to have different interventions so that everyone in San Diego has access to vaccines,” said Nora Vargas, vice-chair of the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors. “We no longer have a vaccine problem in San Diego County, it is really important that in a binational community like ours, we do everything we can do to ensure that both sides of the border are taken care of.”

Health officials believe people along the border region in the United States will not be totally safe from the virus until residents south of the border get fully vaccinated.  

The single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being applied to maquiladora workers from south of the border. (Courtesy: UC San Diego Health)

“Mexico is our largest trading partner and we need the border workforce to be healthy,” said San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher. “This vaccine pilot project will protect the working population, slow disease transmission and speed-up the production and shipping of goods between the U.S. and Mexico.”  

As of Tuesday, 68 percent of San Diegans have received at least one vaccine dose.

According to the County of San Diego, the region is 90 percent of the way toward its goal of fully vaccinating 75 percent of the population 12 years and older. 

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