Texas Vaccination Site Apologizes For Refusing COVID-19 Shots To Two Eligible People

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg, Texas, last year. The Rio Grande Valley, a four-county region that stretches across Texas’s southernmost tip, remains one of America’s most afflicted areas, with the highest hospitalization rates, deaths at more than twice the state average, overwhelmed hospitals and refrigerated trucks serving as back-up morgues.

Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg, Texas, last year. The Rio Grande Valley, a four-county region that stretches across Texas’s southernmost tip, remains one of America’s most afflicted areas, with the highest hospitalization rates, deaths at more than twice the state average, overwhelmed hospitals and refrigerated trucks serving as back-up morgues.

Callaghan O’Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is apologizing for turning away two people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday because they could not prove they live in the United States.

On Feb. 21, it posted a statement on Twitter. UT Health Rio Valley, the clinical practice of the university, stated it “apologizes to those patients who were affected” and “did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines.”

Proof of residency and citizenship are not required to get the vaccine, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services — as stated in guidance on the agency’s website. UT-RGV spokesperson Patrick Gonzalez confirmed the university did not follow state protocol.

Abraham Diaz, who lives in San Juan, says his father was one of the people turned away. He tweeted about the experience on Feb. 20.

Diaz said his dad called him upset and embarrassed after waiting in line for four hours at the UT-RGV vaccine clinic, only to be wrongly told by a person working there he was not eligible for the shot.

“[Dad] said that [the health worker] told him in front of everybody, ‘you don’t have a social, so we can’t help you at all. And it’s only for U.S. citizens,’ ” said Diaz.

The Rio Grande Valley is located near the U.S.-Mexico border and is a majority Hispanic region with a large number of undocumented and mixed-status families.

The university said it is working to reschedule individuals wrongly turned away.

NPR’s Malak Gharib contributed to this story.



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