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LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

San Diego County, Mexican Consulate Partner On Cross-Border Vaccines

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego Carlos Gonz...

Photo by Alexandra Rangel

Above: Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez and Supervisor Nora Vargas announcing a partnership to vaccinate 10,000 workers at U.S.-owned border assembly plants in Tijuana, May 25, 2021.

A coalition of six United States subsidiary companies and San Diego County public officials Tuesday sponsored a COVID-19 mobile clinic to vaccinate 10,000 maquiladora workers employed in Baja California, Mexico.

"We started, six to eight months ago, talking to the private sector on how to help our people with their health and the economy of our state," said Luis Lutteroth, president of Consejo de Desarrollo de Tijuana, speaking on behalf of Camara Nacional de la Industria de la Transformacion Tijuana and the coalition. "We have to accelerate the pace of recovery from this pandemic because our health and our economy are hurting."

The coalition of maquiladoras — subsidiary manufacturing companies in Mexico with an administration facility in the United States — consists of Poly, Compania Embotelladora Del Fuerte-Coca Cola, Jacuzzi, Flex, Call Center Services International-CCSI and Sempra-IEnova.

Reported by Alexandra Rangel

Around 1,500 workers, recruited by their employers, will be vaccinated daily over seven non-consecutive days at a temporary UC San Diego Health mobile clinic in San Ysidro. The companies are covering operating and vaccine costs.

"No virus, especially one as infectious as COVID-19, recognizes borders," said Dr. Shira Abeles, infectious disease specialist at UCSD Health. "As a leading advocate and provider for health care across our region, UC San Diego Health recognizes the public health benefit in joining our binational community in expanding outreach and supporting the widespread deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to help end this pandemic."

Because of the complex logistics required to vaccinate 10,000 people, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was selected.

The vaccination clinic was made possible through the efforts of the Consulate General of Mexico and the county of San Diego, which secured approval from the state. The vaccine was provided by California at the request of the county. If this pilot program proves successful, it may be expanded using state, county or other vaccine sources.

"This example of trans-border collaboration truly symbolizes the notion that although we are two countries, we are in fact only one region," said Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego. "Local partners in the border area are best suited to reach innovative regional solutions to binational challenges, such as COVID."

As of May 25, 2021, 67% of San Diegans have received at least one vaccine dose against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The region is 69.7% toward its herd immunity goal of fully vaccinating 75% of the population 12 years and older.

"We continue to have different interventions so that everyone in San Diego has access to vaccines. We no longer have a vaccine problem in San Diego County," said Nora Vargas, vice-chair, county of San Diego Board of Supervisors. "It is really important that in a binational community like ours, we do everything we can do to ensure that both sides of the border are taken care of. This historic initiative allows us to provide vaccines to our communities and neighbors to the south."

Across the globe, there has been a rise in the demand for goods, but supply chains have slowed because of COVID-19. This new partnership is intended to strengthen binational relations and the economy.

"Mexico is our largest trading partner and we need the border workforce to be healthy," said county Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher. "This vaccine pilot project will protect the working population, slow disease transmission and speed up the production and shipping of goods between the U.S. and Mexico."

COVID-19 vaccines offered in the U.S. have been shown to be safe and effective in reducing the risk for serious illness, even if a vaccinated person subsequently becomes infected by SARS-CoV-2. As more people are vaccinated, the presence of the virus will be reduced and community members will be better protected through herd immunity.

Vaccines are readily available for San Diego residents age 12 and older at numerous locations throughout the county. Visit health.ucsd.edu or sandiegocounty.gov to find the nearest vaccine clinic.

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