EDINBURG, Texas – DHR Health has responded to questions about its policy for administering COVID-19 vaccinations on a mass scale.

The health system came in for criticism on KRGV-TV on Monday for allegedly allowing elected officials, municipal and public safety workers to “jump the queue.” The criticism was made by Mission resident Letty Flores.

DHR Health said: “First and foremost, DHR Health would like to commend our pharmacy team, volunteers, and all of the staff who took part in the historic COVID-19 mass vaccinations at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance over the past 5 days.”

DHR said it had “successfully administered 5,850 doses of the vaccine to DHR Health frontline workers and employees before offering outside healthcare workers and public servants an opportunity to get their vaccination.”

The health system also said that DHR Health pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, admissions, IT staff, as well as the logistics team worked 15 hours or more a day “to ensure vaccines were administered in a timely manner.”

DHR Health said: “With any new task and especially when facilitating thousands of vaccinations in a short amount of time DHR Health will continue to work to streamline and strengthen our processes.”

The health system added: “In closing, DHR Health is proud to be the largest organization to be at the forefront of managing, treating and helping to prevent the spread of the virus in the Rio Grande Valley.  We are fully committed to the well-being of every member of this community.”

Letty Flores

In a story by KRGV reporter Christian Von Preysing, Flores, the Mission resident, questioned why state Sen. Eddie Lucio had been allowed to get his COVID-19 vaccine when he is not a healthcare hero. 

“Nobody should be jumping ahead of the line, period,” Flores said, responding to a story in the Texas Tribune and a photo by Jason Garza for the Tribune showing Sen. Lucio receiving the vaccine.

Sen. Lucio told KRGV TV: “The COVID-19 vaccine is highly volatile and perishable. I accepted an invitation from Doctors Hospital (at) Renaissance to receive the vaccine only after it was explained they had administered as many vaccines as possible to their Tier A1 eligible healthcare workers, and that surplus vaccine had to be either administered or destroyed. As a result, DHR invited public safety employees and public servants to receive their surplus doses.”

Honoring Those Lives Lost to COVID

Meanwhile, Hidalgo County has launched a new billboard campaign depicting local lives lost due to the coronavirus.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez said the billboard is a solemn reminder of all the Hidalgo County residents who have suffered the devastating effects that the virus has had on our community. 

“This is one of the most powerful images that I’ve seen resulting from the pandemic,” Cortez said. “This is a reminder to hold those we love even closer, especially as the holidays approach.”

Before Thanksgiving, the County Judge’s Office posted announcements on social media calling on residents to submit photos of their loved ones. Hundreds of people submitted photos.

Cortez said that along with the billboards, a slideshow will also be posted on the county website and social media accounts.

The campaign billboards are located at U.S. Expressway 83 East of Bridge Street in Weslaco; U.S. Expressway 281 North of Business 281 in Edinburg; and Expressway 83 West of 29th Street in McAllen.

“Our continued message is not to gather in large groups, wear a face covering and social distance,” Cortez said. “But have a blessed Christmas in honor of those lives depicted in this billboard.”

COVID-19 Vaccine coming to Mexico

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard says the first batch of Pfizer’s vaccine against COVID-19 will arrive in Mexico before the end of the year.

“The shipment is in progress and it should be here by Wednesday,” Ebrard said.

Ebrard said authorization for emergency use of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected in Europe at the end of January. He said Mexico is expected to get 77.4 million doses.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows state Sen. Eddie Lucio receiving his COVID vaccine shot at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. (Photo credit: Texas Tribune/Jason Garza).

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