While officials across the United States have offered free beer, concert tickets and millions of dollars in lottery winnings to encourage vaccinations, residents of the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas have needed little prodding. Exposure to death and disease has been enough incentive.
The four-county region accounts for nearly 10 percent of Texas’ approximately 52,000 deaths from the coronavirus. But today, deaths are significantly down, as are case numbers, and vaccination rates are higher than both the state and national averages.
In one county, about 70 percent of residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated, according to state figures and a vaccine tracker maintained by The New York Times.
“I think pretty much everyone in the region knew someone who died from Covid,” said Dr. Michael R. Dobbs, the vice dean of clinical affairs for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which operates the region’s only medical school. “So people wanted the vaccine.”