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El Paso, other border counties lead Covid-19 vaccination efforts across Texas

EL PASO, Texas -- Texas counties on the U.S.-Mexico border that once dealt with the brunt of the load of Covid-19 are now outpacing the state vaccination rate.

El Paso to date has a vaccination rate of 55.71% when dealing with those ages 12 and over, while the state is lagging behind at a vaccination rate hovering around 36%.

"We note the benefits of the vaccination, and the border counties were the hardest hit counties in the state and they've seen what the disease can cause in our communities so having the vaccine available we are seeing the positive effects of the vaccine," El Paso City/County Health Authority Dr. Hector Ocaranza said.

Those positive effects from the vaccine can be noted in daily reported cases of deaths and positive Covid-19 results decreasing as the months have passed by. El Paso suffered it's worst wave of Covid-19 late in 2020, when nearly 2,000 cases were reported in a single day on Nov. 5. El Paso also reported the highest number of deaths on Dec. 12 when 44 deaths were reported.

On Thursday, local health officials did not announce any additional deaths and only 26 additional cases.

"We are seeing the positive effects of the vaccine by seeing these very low numbers of infections and also hospitalizations also that is the proof that the vaccines work," Ocaranza said.

Of the 13 Texs counties that border Mexico, only Kinney County has a vaccination rate of less than 40%. The rest easily surpass the state's average with the next lowest being Terrell County at 43.81% vaccination rate for anyone at least 12 and older. Ocaranza believes these border counties suffered the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, and therefore may be more receptive to getting neighbors to the south vaccinated as well.

"As soon as they open the border, if they request the vaccine we will be happy to provide it because you are not only achieving herd immunity in our community - it has to be achieved during the region. We all need to help each other because for diseases there are no borders," Dr. Ocaranza said.

While El Paso still remains a long way away from achieving herd immunity, which is classified at a 75% vaccination rate or higher, Ocaranza is optimistic given El Pasoans interest in the vaccine - even though the supply now surpasses the demand.

"I believe that it is possible and I have confidence in our community because they have been very accepting of the vaccine, they have always been very accepting of vaccines without much hesitancy," Ocaranza said.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.


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