Mexico to vaccinate migrants in Baja California under new border initiative

FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America, who were previously expelled from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico under Title 42, walk across the Paso del Norte international border bridge to continue their asylum request in the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico June 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Authorities in the Mexican border state of Baja California say they will include migrants in the new COVID-19 vaccination plan for border cities, which is aimed at accelerating the reopening of the shared land border with the United States.

The state, which lies just across from California, began vaccinating adults over the age of 18 this week as part of a new mass vaccination push across northern Mexico, which relies on over a million Johnson & Johnson doses donated by the United States.

Baja California Health Secretary Alonso Óscar Pérez told Reuters on Friday that the agency has a plan to vaccinate migrants as part of this new border vaccination initiative. He added that the agency has allocated specific days for migrants, without providing additional details.

Mexico is rolling out its border initiative first in Baja California, home to one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, then plans to move west state-by-state until reaching Mexico's eastern seaboard.

The decision to include migrants in Baja California may mean migrants will be included across Mexico's border, where thousands of mostly Central American migrants wait, often for months, in hopes of being able to cross into the United States.

Migrant advocates have been pushing the state for information about how this vaccination drive will include the estimated 4,000 migrants living in Baja California, according to data provided by local shelters.

At least 1,000 migrants are camped at the base of an international bridge in the city of Tijuana.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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