The Daily Beast
Vaccine Latin American tourists flock to Texas for coveted COVID shots
Photo illustration by The Daily Beast / Photo Getty Latin America’s middle and monetary class are pouring into Texas in increasing numbers for a coveted vaccine shot, which remains elusive in their home countries.Maria, 38-year-old psychologist in Mexico The city that spoke to The Daily Beast under a pseudonym was tired of waiting for the government-run vaccination program to announce its age range. She was also concerned about her 68-year-old father who suffers from hypertension and is overweight – both COVID-19 comorbidities – and was diagnosed with pericardial effusion. She stayed with friends, received her first dose of Pfizer on March 1, and returned three weeks later for the second. “[The health-care workers] they were super nice, “Maria said.” And we just had to give them ours [Mexican] passports as identification. “Maria later advised 15 friends to get vaccinated in San Antonio:” For me, it was worth pushing the process and, having gone, many friends – many, many friends – are going too, “he said.” Four very good friends went this weekend. And today we were making appointments for another friend. ”Although Mexico was the first country to receive vaccines in Latin America, its campaign subsequently exploded due to production problems, overwhelming demand and a policy of not vaccinating all health care workers. Mexico has only 2.6% of its population of 130 million fully vaccinated, with much of Latin America vaccinating at the same rate. No official figures have been reported on the number of Latin Americans headed north for vaccinations and, in an attempt to avoid the wrath of a populist president who hastens to brand his opponents a “snob”: many prefer discretion when talking about their adventures related to vaccine tourism. But the signs are all there: airfares to Texas from Mexican cities have increased and in recent weeks, WhatsApp groups dedicated to trading have formed on how to get vaccinated abroad, according to details shared with The Daily Beast. COVID Spikes, Mexico’s Just Not CountingTexas It has apparently become a particularly popular destination for vaccine tourists, possibly because the state doesn’t require proof of residency to receive a vaccination. San Antonio University Healthcare – where María received the vaccination – now allows patients to register for their jabs with a Canadian or Mexican address. With US Customs, Maria advises people to be honest about the reasons for their trip, saying, “The problem is when you lie and tell them, ‘I’m not here for a vaccination.'” A 40-year-old restaurateur who owns a bakery and breakfast bar in Mexico City told The Daily Beast that he and his wife traveled to Dallas last week, where they received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine. at a local Walmart. The restaurant owner asked for anonymity because he didn’t want to jeopardize their second dose appointments in three weeks. “It was super fast,” the restaurateur said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. “Nobody was in front of us. From what I understand, a lot of people in Texas don’t want the vaccine. ”He and his wife returned to Mexico City on the same day – and local news outlets also reported Mexicans flying private planes to Lubbock and Amarillo, where they are transported to a local CVS and a government-run vaccination site, respectively. interact with many people on a daily basis, “the restaurateur said. “I want the vaccine to protect my family. Flying to Texas for the vaccine isn’t something people talk about publicly around here, but it’s happening. If anyone asked me, I’d tell them to go. Mexican COVID Tsar Hugo López-Gatell says Mexicans between the ages of 50 and 59 should be vaccinated by the end of June. But the restaurateur “didn’t want to wait any longer,” adding that he thought the “Chinese and Russian vaccines” available in Mexico “were not as effective as those produced in the United States.” The restaurateur said he has a friend who is charging Mexican citizens to sign up for vaccine appointments via Walmart’s online registration website. “For me, he did it for free,” the 40-year-old said. “It’s a service business he launched.” María said she started thinking about a vaccine trip to the United States after hearing from López-Gatell – who was struck by the virus earlier this year and was seen walking around his neighborhood while still infected – reflect on the combination of different vaccinations for the first and second dose of the vaccine. She didn’t like that sound, then there was a feeling that her age group wouldn’t be called for several more months. “Obviously it wouldn’t be our turn until 2022,” he said. “I’m 38 so it wouldn’t be my turn until the end, so if I had a chance to go [to the U.S.] I was going to do it. And it’s not illegal. Health analysts say it is not unusual for the wealthy and influential to seek medical care in the United States, although many middle-class Mexicans are also making the journey. A Monterrey professional soccer team traveled to Dallas earlier this month for vaccinations, according to Mexican media reports. Jaime Square, a professor in the northeastern city of Tampico, was vaccinated in late December in El Paso, Texas. But he says it was luck; his son works as a doctor and some of his clinic staff have refused the vaccinations, leaving the remaining doses for Square and his wife. He spent an extra month there to get the second dose of the Moderna vaccine. Mexico’s vaccination campaign only arrived in the hometown of Square last week. Seniors lines formed 24 hours earlier, he said, and the line of drive-through vaccine cars, he said, “was the longest I’ve ever seen.” The vaccine deal between the US and Mexico is causing a brutal crackdown on migrants in the Lake Chapala region, which is home to a large population of US and Canadian retirees, described a similar situation. “It was a morning disaster: long lines for four hours and some people were turned away. The system for verifying people was slow and all this to get the Chinese vaccine, “the expatriate said.” Some gringos want to get rid of their first shot of Sinovac and change. “His wife went to Houston, where she lived, to get his jab. The expat had booked an appointment at a Walmart pharmacy across the border in suburban San Diego for his vaccination, but was unable to get it after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was withdrawn from the market. She later found out about a drive-through vaccination operation in nearby Guadalajara and was promptly vaccinated. “It was the best you could get,” she said. “It took 60 minutes and there was a free Macarena dance show.” , said of the turbulent scene of staff dancing while directing traffic. But Mexico’s vaccination strategy raised some uncomfortable questions addressed to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who was to vaccinated. on television on April 20. He did not wear the mask during the vaccination, applied by military personnel. Health Secretary Hugo Alcocer walked past him, also without a mask, despite being a prominent doctor before entering politics. While the government has already started vaccinating teachers – a key constituency courted by politicians ahead of this summer’s elections – many workers in private health facilities are still waiting their turn. “A lot of our parents and grandparents are vaccinated, which is great. But there are still first-line health personnel to vaccinate … and you start vaccinating teachers? Let me ask you what it is, “said a neurologist in Monterrey, who plans to travel to Texas for a vaccination when their US visa is renewed.” We have the highest medical mortality due to COVID- 19 “. The neurologist shared details of a colleague, who said in a private Facebook post from her vaccination site in Texas that she” begged for a dose of Sinovac in Mexico, “but was denied. I’m not alone. Mexicans going to the US for vaccinations. Carlos, a reporter from Colombia who spoke to The Daily Beast using a pseudonym, bought a flight to Houston with his girlfriend in April to get her vaccine. “I went in Texas because they said it was legal for anyone over 16 there. ‘Unlike Florida, where they said it was for residents only, Carlos said. “With the possibility that at some point the United States may cancel flights from Colombia, I have decided to do so as soon as possible.” He added: “If the Colombian government doesn’t get me a vaccine soon and I have the resources to get one, then I might as well solve the problem myself. I won’t stand here waiting for the government to fix the problem for me.” Read More on The Daily Beast. Get our top news in your inbox every day. Sign up now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves into the stories you care about. Learn more.