DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Donna is launching a new vaccine initiative that aims to improve the city’s economy and trade during the coronavirus pandemic.

The city is teaming up with the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to vaccinate maquiladora and essential workers at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge. Donna City Manager Carlos Yerena tells ValleyCentral this program is essential in keeping the local economy alive.

“The rule that customs has is that if you are vaccinated you can cross over to Texas, if you are not vaccinated you are not able to cross,” Yerena said. “So all those people, they are going to be getting the vaccine are now going to be able to come in, cross and support our shops, our restaurants and our retail.”

The state of Tamaulipas is a very important state for the country of Mexico and for Texas as well as the U.S.; It’s a leading importer and exporter with the U.S,” Yerena said. “So I think this program is going to help us so that we can vaccinate essential workers in Tamaulipas and to make sure the flow of trade continues.”

The COVID-19 vaccines are being provided by RAFA Healthcare Management Group, at no cost to the City of Donna. The program comes as nearly 12,000 cases have been reported in Mexico just this week, according to the World Health Organization.

Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco J. Garcia Cabeza de Vaca said this vaccination effort is not just aimed at the workers but it is also being extended to the family members as well.

“We want to vaccinate the maquila industry but as well as many of their kids that have not been vaccinated,” Cabeza de Vaca said. “They are getting registered, then we bring them in the buses.”

The maquila workers and their families are being brought into the U.S side of the bridge in buses. Once the buses arrive, nurses from RAFA Healthcare board the buses to vaccinate everyone. Workers do not get off the buses to administer the vaccines.

“We have all trained nurses and paramedics giving the vaccines to everyone coming from Mexico, they don’t need a Visa to come,” said Minerva Traya, CEO of RAFA Healthcare Management Group.

As the new program rolls out, the City of Donna hopes this can get both Texas and Mexico back to some sort of normalcy.

“The hope is that we can get as many people as we can vaccinated, so that we can function as normally as we can, and we can get back to pre-pandemic functions,” Yerena said.