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Vaccination rates in the Valley may be skewed, health official says

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According to the Department of State Health Services, around 65% of people in Cameron and Hidalgo counties who are eligible for the COVID vaccine are fully vaccinated.

A spokesman with DSHS said the state is counting people 12 and older - those eligible for the vaccine - using census estimates of county populations.

According to Hidalgo County Health Authority Dr. Ivan Melendez, that may not be the best way to look at the data.

RELATED: Local health expert stresses the benefits of COVID vaccines

"The virus doesn't say, ‘Oh you're an eligible population.’ Everyone is treated the same by the virus,” Dr. Melendez said. “Every time you vaccinate someone, that is documented. So there's no playing with that number; but you divide that number by your population."

When you break down the rates by population, you get close to a 15% drop. But even that number may be flawed.

When you add a potential growth in population to both counties, that number drops again by almost 20%.

But it doesn't stop there. The proximity to the border may also be a factor.

RELATED: Hidalgo County reports 401 new cases of COVID-19

According to the Migration Policy Institute, there's an estimated 136,000 undocumented people who may never be counted during the census.

When you add that number to the vaccination rate, it drops again by 30%, bringing the possible vaccination rate in the Rio Grande Valley down to almost half of what the state is reporting.

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