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Juárez vaccinations start next week in bid to re-open border

An official discusses Juarez vaccination plans.
Mexican gov't
An official discusses Juarez vaccination plans.

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico -- More than a month after México announced its border vaccination efforts, people aged 18 to 39 in Ciudad Juárez now know they're set to get their first Covid-19 shot next week.

During a news conference Thursday morning, Mexican Security Secretary Rosa Icela Rodríguez said Juárez will vaccinate that age group from July 12 to July 17. People can register here: https://mivacuna.salud.gob.mx/index.php

Rodríguez said they will administer the Pfizer vaccinate at seven sites across town. Specific details like times, locations and who's getting vaccinated each day have not been announced.

This comes a few days Rodríguez said Juárez was not going to be among the first Chihuahua border cities to vaccinate people 18 to 39. The state is first vaccinating more than 22,000 people from that age group in smaller border towns from July 8 to July 10.

There are more than half a million people aged 18 to 39 in Juárez. It's the second largest Mexican border city, only behind Tijuana.

Mexican President Manuel López Obrador explained that Juárez was not included in the first Chihuahua border cities because it has a lot more people than the other regions of the state. He said México simply didn't have enough Pfizer vaccines to begin administering shots in Juárez yet.

The Mexican security secretary also said that Juárez has been busy vaccinating people 40 to 49 this week.

President López Obrador also said that vaccinating the border has taken time because México can't simply use any vaccine. He fears the U.S. would not agree to end crossing restrictions if border cities administered vaccines that have not been approved for use in the U.S.

"We can't use other types of vaccines on the border because in the United States, and I certainly do not agree with this, those who are not vaccinated by these pharmaceutical companies or with these vaccines are denied entry or are not accepted," López Obrador said. "We do nothing if we vaccinate with Cansino or AstraZeneca at the border because they will tell us that the border is not open for that purpose."

It's worth noting that Customs and Border Protection has never asked for proof of vaccination when people cross into the U.S.

México has been vaccinating people 18 and older along the border since last month. It's an effort that has the purpose of making the U.S. agree to lift border crossing restrictions. They have been in effect since March of 2020 due to the pandemic.

The border vaccination effort began when the U.S. donated 1.3 million Johnson & Johnson doses to México. President López Obrador ordered to use all of those shots in Mexican border cities.

However, 1.2 million of those J&J shots were used in the state of Baja California. That left people in other border cities wondering when it would be their turn.

México later explained it was vaccinating border states from west to east, meaning that Sonora was next. The state used the remaining 92,000 J&J doses and began to use the Pfizer vaccine for the rest.

Sonora finished vaccinating more than 200,000 people 18 to 39 this week, according to Mexican officials.

Border crossing restrictions are set to expire July 21. They can be extended again if U.S. officials feel that Covid-19 remains a threat.

Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard has been hoping that the U.S. would end restrictions by this month, but officials have not confirmed if that's happening.

The new problem is that México is now using the Pfizer vaccine along the border. It requires two doses that need to be administered at least about a month apart. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot.

That means people aged 19 to 39 in Juárez would be fully vaccinated by August.

Many have been hoping that the U.S. would agree reopen the border soon because México said it was using the J&J vaccine along the border. The J&J vaccine only requires one dose. People are also considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the shot.

Earlier this week, Ebrard talked about the possibility of reopening sections of the border that have high vaccination rates on both sides. Ebrard and other top Mexican officials have been discussing with the U.S. how to reopen the border safely and soon, but he said nothing has been officially decided.

El Paso has also been helping Juárez with its vaccination efforts. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego helped organize a vaccination event in Tornillo that began this week. It has the goal of vaccinating 50,000 Juárez workers.

Samaniego has said numerous times that El Paso can't reach the so-called herd immunity without Juárez having the same vaccination levels.

More than 65% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in El Paso County. Officials announced today that 31% of people are fully vaccinated in Juárez.

Coronavirus / News / Top Stories

Jesus A. Rodriguez

ABC-7 producer.

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