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After slow start, nearly 60% vaccinated with first dose in Starr County, officials say

4 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago Saturday, April 10 2021 Apr 10, 2021 April 10, 2021 11:30 AM April 10, 2021 in News - Local

Starr County officials say they have made major progress in vaccine distribution as almost 60 percent of people 16 and older have gotten their first shot.

Last summer during the peak of the pandemic, Starr County's only hospital was at capacity. The hospital was forced to transfer patients to Dallas and San Antonio. Resident Ana Gonzalez says she was worried.

"My brother got sick and he couldn't go to the hospital because it was packed and they weren't admitting people,” Gonzalez said.

When vaccines started arriving, Starr County got a couple hundred, while other counties like Hidalgo and Cameron received thousands. Starr County's population is much smaller, but Gonzalez says they also have fewer resources.

"We don't have the facilities to keep our people taken care of,” Gonzalez said. “We only have one hospital and it's not very big."

After many phone calls, requests and help from area politicians, Rio Grande City CISD started receiving more vaccines.

Acting Superintendent Adolfo Pena Jr. says the district is expecting to receive students going through loss and trauma next school year.

"I had a parent call me saying, ‘I'm in a hospital bed, I just lost my mom and dad, our kids are at home,’” Pena said. “So, as a principal I would need to call out and make sure they were getting food, or things necessary."

From once struggling to hold a vaccine clinic, to now administering thousands of vaccines a week, district officials remain hopeful.

"16 and older, we have 57% of people that have gotten one dose,” said Rio Grande City CISD Health Coordinator Rolando Barrera. Of those, 38% have gotten their two doses. For 65 and older, we've got 81% of the people with one dose."

Board President Eduardo Ramirez said Rio Grande City CISD campuses have administered 41,490 vaccines.

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