High death tolls elsewhere in the country have not necessarily translated to high vaccination rates.
In Greenville County, S.C., where at least one in 508 residents has died, about 40 percent of those eligible have been fully vaccinated. In East Feliciana Parish, La., where one in 168 has died, about 29 percent of the eligible population is fully inoculated. And in the county of San Bernardino in California, where one in 455 has died, just 43 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.
In the Rio Grande Valley, vaccines are part of the region’s fabric, Dr. Prot said. Parents understand their children must be vaccinated against diseases like measles and polio before starting school, and that sentiment often translates to adults. She said she has seen patients complaining of upper respiratory illnesses choosing a shot over a pill, which many people here deem less effective.
“In the Hispanic and Mexican culture it’s always, ‘All right, you have to get your shots to go to school,’” she said. “It’s part of the culture that they need to get vaccinated.”
Recent polling supports this notion: According to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey of 1,227 adults in early March, 63 percent of Latinos who participated said they either planned to get the vaccine or already had received it. (But the number of those who expressed hesitancy — 37 percent — was slightly higher than Black and white respondents.)
While the country as a whole is not on pace to meet President Biden’s goal of at least partly vaccinating 70 percent of adults by July 4, the Rio Grande Valley is getting close to that threshold.
In Hidalgo County, where one in 308 residents has died from the coronavirus, and nearby Cameron County, where one in 252 residents has died, about 60 percent of those who qualify have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the state’s department of health and a tracker by The New York Times. In Starr County, a mostly rural area with a single one-story hospital where one in 213 has died, that figure is about 70 percent.