Not far from the U.S. border, hundreds of men, women and children waited in an hours-long line in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, for a chance to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
“This line is here almost every day,” Dr. Victor Treveño said.
Treveño works on the other side — in Laredo, Texas — but is leading a bi-national effort to distribute donated vaccines here.
“And the reason for that is we’re one community and whatever affects them affects us and vice versa…we’re both communities are 150 miles away from major cities so we have to tend to our needs locally,” he said.
So the team, with the approval of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, devised a way to bring people to a secure spot along the port of entry. The spot was chosen because the U.S. doesn’t want to export vaccines that were paid for by U.S. tax dollars.
But, many of the vaccines being distributed were just days away from expiring, with no takers. So doctors on the U.S. side took them to where there are plenty of takers. Especially eager to get them are parents with children under 5, who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine in Mexico.
Josefina Guerra was in line with her two grandchildren. She told CBS News they were there to get their second shot.
Once parked, Treveño joined other doctors and nurses on the bus, where the shots — and crying — began, followed by gratitude from adults who got the shot too, like Guerra.
Guerra said she has hypertension and diabetes, so the vaccine is very important to her.
On the way back, some of the kids showed off their arms, where they got their shot. One child said he didn’t cry, and that he was strong because he plays baseball.
Nuevo Laredo Mayor Carmen Lilia Canturosas said the childrens’ vaccinations have given her city a milestone: they’re the first area in all of Mexico to vaccinate children ages 6 months to 12 years.
The bi-national program has vaccinated 250,000 people in a little more than a year.
“I like it, it’s very satisfying,” Treveño said. “we do because there’s a need, we have a need, and we step up to the plate.”