Mexico, the US to Develop Joint Vaccination SchemeBy Miriam Bello | Wed, 04/28/2021 - 12:24
Mexicans are heading to the US to get their COVID-19 vaccines, leading local authorities to create a vaccination scheme that prioritizes those that travel back and forth between both countries.
Mexico has vaccinated about 4.6 percent of its population, even though it has secured enough doses for all its citizens. The problem is that the vaccine’s rollout has been slow and uneven. While the government promised to begin vaccinating elders living at rural areas first, rollouts unfolded differently in every state. Moreover, vaccination for medical professionals has also dragged. Just weeks ago, medical professionals working in the private sector protested outside the President’s home asking for vaccines, as they were left out of the priority campaigns.
On the other hand, the US is well underway to vaccinate most of its population. At this point, 29.1 percent of the US population is vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign aims to apply 200 million doses during his first 100 days in office. Biden later promised that vaccines will be available for everyone over 18 years old. Furthermore, the country sent 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico last month.
With this in mind, people from Mexico and other parts of Latin America began independently flying to the US to get vaccinated, mainly at the southern states. Texas has extra COVID-19 doses, according to Los Angeles Times, which has made it a major hub for international travelers seeking to get vaccinated. “US health officials say vaccine tourism is legal. Only about half of US states require proof of residency for vaccinations, and none insist patients show proof of citizenship,” reports Los Angeles Times. So far, there are no exact numbers of regarding how many Mexicans or Latin Americans have received a jab in the US. But, Florida, for example, estimates than over 128,000 non-residents have received a dose in the state.
The situation led travel agencies to offer vaccination packages for around MXN$20,000 (US$1,002). The president of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies, Eduardo Paniagua, estimated that during the last two months the sale of airline tickets increased by 70 percent year-on-year because of this trend.
To address the situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a boarder vaccination scheme between Mexico and the US that will prioritize Mexicans living in border cities due to the significant mobility between both countries. "The point is that the US can integrate Mexico into some of its vaccination plans," said Martha Delgado, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.