Of Mexico’s 128 million citizens, just 4% have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. It said that health care experts believe the nation’s mission of inoculating at least two-thirds of the population by August is unrealistic and will continue into next year.
To avoid months of waiting, some Mexican citizens are coming to the U.S. to get vaccinated faster.
Mauricio Fernández Garza, a 70-year-old businessman who served three terms as mayor of a wealthy suburb in Monterrey, Mexico, posted on Facebook about his trip to Texas to get vaccinated in January.
Fernández showed his Mexican passport as proof of identification and got his first jab of the Moderna vaccine while in Texas, according to the Times. He returned a month later to get his second dose.
Fernández told the paper that he estimates a few thousand of the residents in his home city have made similar trips north.
Investigative reporter Yami Virgin with San Antonio, Texas, station KTXS-TV reported that residents of the city told her that they have friends from Monterrey and Mexico City who have flown into San Antonio for their vaccines.
NPR said it also spoke with a number of people, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of public backlash, who say that their relatives have also come from Mexico to get their shots. The relatives reportedly told the outlet that family members took trips to Texas, California and Vail, Colorado, for the vaccine.
Others have received pushback from those who see this phenomenon as elitist and a way of cutting the line.
Mexican TV host Juan José Origel bragged about getting his second shot in Miami in an Instagram post.
“They didn’t even ask for my visa,” Origel said.
He also tweeted a photo of himself getting the vaccine, writing, “how sad my country didn’t provide me with this security.”
According to the Times, one social media user responded: “With money you can do anything.”
The trips north highlight Mexico’s struggle to protect its citizens from the virus.
Last week, Mexico’s health ministry confirmed that by mid-February there were over 294,000 deaths “associated with COVID-19.” It represented a 60% increase over the death toll originally published.
There have been almost 27,000 more deaths through March, bringing the total to more than 321,000.