Uvalde County health officials push vaccine education as infections rise

“You’re either going to get the virus or you’re gonna get the vaccine,” Uvalde health officials say

Uvalde – The COVID-19 positivity rate in Uvalde County is up to more than 17% and is increasing quickly.

Dr. Jared Reading, with the Uvalde Health Authority, said there’s a push to educate the public and get the community involved in helping increase vaccination rates.

“I’ve got no doubt that the Delta variant is here and it’s making younger people sick,” he said.

Only about 45% of the population in that county is fully vaccinated, meaning every other person you encounter is unprotected.

Several cases of infection started popping up in recent weeks. Talking to those who contracted it, Reading said it’s mostly people who were holding off on the vaccine.

“I spoke with border patrol members who got it and I said, ‘how did you get this?’ and they got it from people coming across the border that they were detaining,” Reading said.

While others, he said got it from gatherings.

“People from out of town visiting or they go out of town and they bring it back with them,” he said.

The National Guard has set up a vaccination site at the Uvalde Civic Center, where about 20 to 30 people visit daily. Reading is also talking to schools to set up pop-up sites when school returns.

Reading said he understands and hears the arguments as to why people are not wanting to get the vaccine but, he says it shouldn’t be a political reason.

The vaccine was created under a Republican administration and now issued out by a Democrat administration. He said the vaccine offers everyone freedom.

“I know people say, ‘This is a choice, you can’t mandate, you can’t give this to me,’ but this also gives us more freedom. It saves us from being shutdown again, it saves us from our friends and family dying,” Reading said.

Staff at Uvalde Memorial Hospital have until August 6 to get a vaccine, file for a medical or religious exception or get fired. The mandate follows after several staff who were not vaccinated got sick and spread it to one another.

“When you are in healthcare, you have a moral responsibility to protect your patients,” Reading added.

Reading said at this point, people who have not gotten the vaccine have two choices, and one is riskier.

“You’re going to get immunity. You’re either going to get the virus or you’re gonna get the vaccine, so just prepare to get sick,” Reading said to those who choose not to.

More on KSAT:

COVID-19 positivity rate climbs to 11.2% in Bexar County just one week after Fourth of July

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.