“Claudia” is a 58-year-old resident of San Pedro who’d rather not share her real name with me to discuss the vaccine issue. She tells me that for a while it has been the topic of conversation among her circles. People share stories, rumors, tips, and encouragement about the quest for vaccines. She recognizes that vaccine tourism holds a degree of stigma, as seen when celebrities and politicians have posted about getting the vaccine. Mexican TV host Juan José Origel, who posted on social media about receiving the shot in Miami, was criticized on both sides of the border and became the subject of heated public debate. A candidate for mayor of San Pedro also generated controversy after announcing he got the shot in Fresno, California, and calling on his local officials to step up. (He claimed he was only curious to see how the rollout worked, and once there seized the opportunity.) The state’s health minister called vaccine tourism among the elites a matter of survival and encouraged it, while advising people to be aware of U.S. regulations.
Claudia flew with her mother and sister, both over 65 years old, to San Antonio recently to try their luck at getting the shot. They succeeded after waiting in a line of cars for about 12 hours near the coastal town of Corpus Christi, where her mother has an apartment. They did not have to prove residency, but because they have property there, they could have if asked.
“We didn’t do anything against the rules. We didn’t lie about where we worked, our ages, or our health,” Claudia told me over the phone from her mother’s apartment. But she admits that she is uncomfortable about the fact that she got the vaccine before someone of her age and health was officially eligible. She is aware the shot could have gone to someone else who needed it more.