SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Several cross-border agencies involved in a pilot program to vaccinate maquiladora workers from Mexico are hoping to expand the project.

So far, more than 18,700 of these workers have been inoculated, said Carlos González Gutiérrez, Mexico’s Consul General in San Diego.

Close to 5,000 more are expected to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Friday.

The announcement was made during a virtual news conference in which González Gutiérrez was joined by others who have been involved in the effort.

As of last month, workers from south of the border are being bused to the Ped West pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. They are then allowed to walk into U.S. territory where a mobile clinic has been set up by UC San Diego Health.

Its personnel administers the Johnson & Johnson brand of the vaccine. And as soon as the workers are inoculated, they walk back into Mexico.

The vaccines are being provided by the County of San Diego and the State of California, and are paid for by the American companies that employ the workers.

The vaccines have been described as “excess” by County of San Diego officials.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also involved in this program, which has been hailed as incredibly successful.

It’s one other border regions are trying to emulate.

During today’s virtual news conference, the results of a survey were also released stating that five percent of Tijuana residents had crossed the border into the United States during the pandemic.

This query was sponsored by the California Health Care Foundation and the International Community Foundation.

It was conducted in the cities of Mexicali, Ensenada and Tijuana between Feb. 1 and 19, 2021, with the participation of 155 medical students and interns from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC).

It was done under the coordination and supervision of the Ministry of Health of Baja California with technical support provided by the University of California San Diego Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Colef) and UABC.

Other findings included:

  • According to the results of the antibody tests, the prevalence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, which indicates the percentage of people who were already infected by the virus at some point in the past, was similar in Baja California to that of the rest of Mexico: 21% in Baja California compared to 25% at the national level, as determined by the COVID-19 Health and Nutrition National Survey.
  • Based on the obtained evidence, the percentage of people residing in Baja California cities who crossed the border in the 6 months prior to the survey was low. Furthermore, the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was not different among those who did or did not cross the border.
  • A higher percentage of positive cases was registered in Ensenada than in the rest of the surveyed cities, likely due to the dynamics of the pandemic, in which the peak in cases occurred first in Mexicali and Tijuana and then later in the port of Ensenada, where the peak appears to have coincided with the survey period.
  • Knowledge about COVID-19 in the population was limited. Prevention messages on the use of masks and handwashing seem to have had an impact on the population. In contrast, the messages regarding the importance of staying at home have either not been accepted, or the population has not had the necessary resources to do so.

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