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Binational effort to vaccinate 10,000 maquiladora workers underway

-Editorial

A coalition of six US subsidiary companies sponsored a mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic for 10,000 maquiladora workers employed in Baja California, Mexico.

“We started, six or eight months ago, talking to the private sector about how to help our people with their health and the economy of our state. We have to accelerate the pace of recovery from this pandemic because our health and our economy are suffering,” said Luis Lutteroth, president of the Tijuana Development Council, speaking on behalf of the National Chamber of the Tijuana Transformation Industry and the participating companies: Poly, Coca-Cola, Jacuzzi, Flextronics, Baja Call Centers, and Sempra-IEnova.

Approximately 1,500 workers, recruited by their employers, will be vaccinated daily for seven non-consecutive days at a UC San Diego Health temporary mobile clinic in San Ysidro.

“No virus, especially one as infectious as COVID-19, recognizes borders. As one of the leading health care advocates and providers in our region, UC San Diego Health recognizes the public health benefit of joining our binational community to expand the reach and support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines that help end this pandemic,” said Shira Abeles, MD, infectious disease specialist at UC San Diego Health.

Due to the complex logistics required to vaccinate 10,000 people, the maquiladoras requested that their employees be offered the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine.

The vaccination clinic was made possible thanks to the work of the Consulate General of Mexico and the County of San Diego, which obtained the approval of the state of California and the United States government. The vaccines were provided by the state of California at the request of the county. If the pilot program is successful, it could be expanded using the state, county, or UC San Diego Health vaccine supply, or a combination of all three sources.

“This example of cross-border collaboration symbolizes the notion that although we are two countries, we are one region,” said Carlos González Gutiérrez, Consul General of Mexico in San Diego. “Local partners in the border area are best suited to achieve innovative regional solutions to binational challenges, such as COVID.”

As of May 25, 2021, 68 percent of San Diegans have already received at least one vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The region has already met 90 percent of its herd immunity goal of fully vaccinating 75 percent 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 President of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “It’s really important that in a binational community like ours, we do everything we can to make sure both sides of the border are taken care of. This historic initiative, with the support of the Biden administration, allows us to provide vaccines to our communities and neighbors to the south.”

COVID-19 vaccines offered in the United States are safe and effective in reducing the risk of serious illness, even if a vaccinated person becomes infected with SARS-CoV-2.  As more people are vaccinated, the presence of the virus will decrease and community members will be better protected through herd immunity.

Vaccines are available to San Diego residents age 12 and older at many locations throughout the county.  Don’t wait any longer, visit health.ucsd.edu or sandiegocounty.gov to find the vaccine clinic closest to you.

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