EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – El Paso County officials are working on a plan with the city of Juarez to vaccinate up to 25,000 Mexican minors against COVID-19.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (Border Report photos)

The vaccinations would take place at the Tornillo Port of Entry at a date yet to be determined, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said.

Mexico is lagging in immunizing those under age 18 against the coronavirus, so El Paso’s intervention is likely to make an immediate positive impact south of the border. Mexico as of Thursday had administered 128 million American, British, Chinese and Russian vaccines to its adults, but only immunized a few thousand minors, mostly in states bordering the U.S.

El Paso would also benefit because at least some minors coming across would have received the protection. Monday’s rollback of non-essential border travel restrictions exempts Mexican minors traveling with a vaccinated adult from proving they’re immunized against COVID-19.

“All of us are ready. (Director of CBP’s Office Field Operations Hector) Mancha has expressed his support, the Mayor of Juarez has expressed his support, we have the vaccines and the venue. What’s stopping us is the logistics,” Samaniego said on Friday.

El Paso County in July vaccinated 35,000 Mexican residents inside a buffer zone at the Marcelino Serna International Bridge in Tornillo, Texas. The county provided the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines at a cost of $500,000 that was reimbursed by the employers of those who received them. The Juarez Maquiladora Association collected the funds.

Samaniego said vaccinating the children would likely involve a two-shot dose. “Unless we can get the Johnson & Johnson again, we’re looking at $1 million,” he said.

The judge explained the holdup is that the children need to be accompanied to the port of entry by a parent, and most households in Juarez consist of two working parents.

“I’m going to have a meeting with the consul of Mexico. We are going to iron those things out,” he said.