SAN DIEGO (CN) --- Under red, white and green papel picado garland representing the Mexican flag, San Diego officials announced Tuesday the Mexico Consulate would host a vaccination clinic in the hope of reaching the immigrant community and Mexican-Americans who have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic in California.
Starting Wednesday, the consulate will host a San Diego County vaccination clinic from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday where up to 100 vaccines a day will be administered.
The new clinic builds upon a prior relationship between the consulate and county to reach the immigrant community during the pandemic. This past September, the consulate agreed to host a Covid-19 testing site every Monday.
Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego, said at a press conference Tuesday the county has administered 7,000 Covid-19 tests at the Consulate site.
“It is no secret that the Latino community has been disproportionately affected by this pandemic --- Covid-19 is a lethal threat for Latinos in the prime of their lives,” Gutierrez said, noting the discrepancy in Covid-19 deaths among Hispanic residents age 35-49 compared to the general population.
He added: “The consulate is a safe space for the Mexican community and the Latino community in general. We are proud of this partnership because it helps reinforce the message that our community can access public health services regardless of their immigration status or nationality.”
So far San Diego County has administered 1.42 million Covid-19 vaccines to residents and those who work in the region.
But reaching certain populations eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine has proven difficult. The county has reserved a portion of available appointments through its scheduling assistant program, where community health workers sign residents up for appointments at grocery stores and other neighborhood hubs, to equitably distribute the coronavirus vaccine.
The vaccination site at the consulate will include some of those reserved appointments.
Local officials also expressed concern Mexico continues to be hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, a fact further compounded by limited access to the coronavirus vaccine.
As of this week, only 734,000 Mexican residents --- or 0.58% of the population --- had been fully vaccinated. In the United States, nearly 50 million people have been fully vaccinated or over 13% of the population.
The lack of vaccine access for San Diego’s southern neighbor has been a top concern for county officials due to the transitory nature the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro and the thousands of people who cross between the two countries daily for work.
But County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher acknowledged the Biden administration’s announcement the past week it would loan 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico once approved for official use was welcome.
“The supply of vaccines needed and America’s willingness to share is a challenging and vexing issue but the federal government beginning to share vaccines with Mexico is a good thing,” Fletcher said.
Supervisor Nora Vargas noted San Diego and Tijuana are a binational region interdependent on vaccine access on both sides of the border to curb the pandemic --- she has met with the health director in Baja California to discuss the issue.
Vargas said the 200,000 American citizens who live in Tijuana are included in San Diego County’s vaccination outreach.
“They’re also part of the bigger equation for us, so moving forward we’re going to continue to advocate and continue to ensure that everyone gets a vaccination,” Vargas said.
The issue of sharing vaccine with San Diego’s southern neighbor is one Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina has been elevating.
In an interview, he said working to ensure people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are vaccinated is an issue of national security.
“It’s really important the United States work with Mexico to address the growing vaccine gap because for every community on the border we’re not going to be able to get back to normal if we have this continued closed border because people still have high covid rates in Mexico and they’re not vaccinated,” Dedina said.
Ethicist and University of Manitoba philosophy professor RJ Leland is one of the authors of a paper exploring a fair priority model for Covid-19 vaccine distribution worldwide.
He said in an interview that politicians and health care leaders nationwide should already be discussing the point at which vaccinating additional people in the U.S. will do less good --- in terms of preventing deaths --- due to the most vulnerable being vaccinated and a level of herd immunity being reached.
“With each marginal dose you’re doing less and less good. You hit the most vulnerable people, you hit folks that are at most danger of spreading the virus and then there’s other places that have fewer doses,” Leland said.
“People in the states need to be talking more about that, and, at a certain point, say once we’ve vaccinated 40% of the U.S., you can really save so many more lives if you take seriously the claims of folks abroad,” he added.
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