Texas vaccine site apologizes after denying shot to eligible recipient

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg posted an apology on Twitter Feb. 21 after a San Juan resident said a staff member at the university's vaccination site denied his father a shot because he could not prove citizenship, NPR reported Feb. 22. 

Abraham Diaz said his father, who is over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions, called him after waiting in line for four hours at the UT Health Rio Grande Valley vaccination site Feb. 20. 

"[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," Mr. Diaz told NPR. "'And it's only for U.S. citizens.'" 

In a Feb. 21 statement shared on Twitter, UT Health RGV said "it did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines that all eligible patients, despite their place of residence, be administered a COVID-19 vaccine. UT Health RGV apologizes to those patients who were affected at Saturday's site. We are reaching out to provide those patients with an appointment at their earliest convenience." 

The state's health department notes there is not a residency requirement to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in its best practices for vaccine providers document.

The health system has been vaccinating people since mid-December and is still looking into how many people may have been previously turned away, a spokesperson for UT Health RGV told Becker's in a Feb. 23 email. It's unclear whether the staff member who denied Mr. Diaz's father the vaccine was a volunteer or employee. 

More articles on public health:
California will set aside 10% of COVID-19 vaccines for teachers, Newsom says
COVID-19 death rates by state: Feb. 23
States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered 


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