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UTRGV joins the White House COVID-19 College Challenge; encourages Vaqueros to get vaccinated

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Israel Cantu, a UTRGV music student, receives the COVID-19 vaccine in April 2021 at the Medical Education Building on the Edinburg Campus. (UTRGV Archival Photo by Paul Chouy)

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By News and Internal Communications 

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TX – As UTRGV prepares for the start of the Fall 2021 semester on Aug. 23, now more than ever the university is encouraging its Vaqueros to get vaccinated. 

To help end the pandemic and get 100 percent of the university community vaccinated, UTRGV recently joined the COVID-19 College Challenge, which is supported by The White House and the U.S. Department of Education, to become a Vaccine Champion College.  

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The university is among hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States and one of 20 in Texas to sign up for the challenge, kicked off by the Biden Administration as a way to encourage young people to get vaccinated and get them one step closer to campus life.  

UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the safety of the university community is the priority, the key to helping everyone get back to their classes and their work on UTRGV campuses.  

“UTRGV is proud to take on this challenge to help us get back to campus and doing what we love – educating the future of Texas. This is an excellent opportunity for universities across the country to come together to help save lives and end this pandemic,” Bailey said. “Vaqueros, let’s take action today, so, this fall, we can welcome you home.”  

As of Thursday, Aug. 19, the UTRGV campus community has experienced high vaccination rates, which includes the following:  

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  • Of the 5,174 current employees, 3,401 have completed the UTRGV Vaccine Portal. Of those 3,401, 90 percent (3,062) have self-reported that they are vaccinated.  
  • Of the 32,533 currently enrolled students, 24,579 have completed the portal. Of those 24,579, 83 percent (20,464) have self-reported that they are vaccinated. 

Students, faculty and staff who want the vaccine or who want to report their vaccine status, may do so by accessing the UTRGV Vaccine Portal

The White House website says the challenge consists of taking three key actions to help get campus communities vaccinated:  

  • Engage every student, faculty and staff member.  
  • Organize the college community.  
  • And deliver vaccine access for all.  

“While a significant portion of older generations have received the shot, younger Americans lag behind,” according to the website.  

Throughout the pandemic, UT Health RGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine established and maintained COVID-19 testing sites, which reached a milestone of 100,000 tests and helped vaccinate the Valley and UTRGV communities when designated a COVID-19 Vaccination Hub Provider by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). From December 2020 to date, UT Health RGV has administered more than 85,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.   To learn what students, staff and faculty can expect this fall semester – which begins Monday, Aug. 23 – visit the UTRGV Welcome Back website at www.utrgv.edu/commitment/.  


During the summer, UT Health RGV transitioned its COVID-19 vaccine distribution hubs to its clinical sites.  

Current UTRGV students can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at Student Health locations in Edinburg and Brownsville. University employees can visit the Employee Health locations in Edinburg and Harlingen, and at Student Health in Brownsville.  

Walk-ups are welcome, but appointments can be made by registering via the UTRGV Vaccine Portal.  

The COVID-19 vaccines are now available to the general public at UT Health RGV clinics throughout the Valley. To register for the vaccine, please visit https://uthealthrgv.org/vaccine/ and follow the directions that best apply to you.   For updates, including details on which clinics will offer vaccines, follow UT Health RGV on social media (FacebookTwitter and Instagram).

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