'They're in the middle of it': Hidalgo County officials explain why frontline workers are getting vaccinated first

2 months 2 weeks 4 days ago Saturday, January 23 2021 Jan 23, 2021 January 23, 2021 12:54 PM January 23, 2021 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic

Over the past several months, thousands of vaccines are sporadically shipped to counties across the Rio Grande Valley. 

County officials say they're working around the clock to plan and execute ways to distribute the vaccines. 

“We had our first event in Mercedes in La Joya three weeks ago," said Hidalgo County Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez. "In a couple of weeks, like on February 3, we will be having our second dose event in Mercedes, and the next day we’ll have a second dose event in La Joya.” 

Channel 5 News has received many calls from concerned viewers who say they are frustrated with online vaccine registrations and in-person registrations. Many viewers have asked if school administrators and staff are getting vaccinations first, before the public. 

“In getting our school nurses ready and our school leadership ready, school districts have put forth their teams to assist us with vaccination," Olivarez said. "In return, they are getting vaccinated.” 

Olivarez says school nurses, some administrators and staff are still working on the frontlines for their districts, administering COVID-19 tests for teachers and students. Others are administering vaccinations to the public. 

“Any of those people that were exposed to that type of scenario, they are looking at getting vaccinated," said Olivarez. "We’re giving a limited amount of vaccine to those entities that are in turn helping us vaccinate others.” 

Olivarez says the county gives school districts a small portion of vaccinations, anywhere between 150 to 200 doses, to protect the school nurses and other staff members who are treating the public. 

“When you go to a distribution center or you go to a place that’s going to be testing you to see if you have COVID, of course those people that are there are going to be vaccinated because they’re in the middle of it,” said Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez. 

Melendez said it's not only fair, but it's public health policy, explaining when issues are reported, county officials investigate and send reports of suspicious or illegal misuse of vaccines to state agencies. 

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