COVID-19 vaccine uptake among people who inject drugs in Tijuana Mexico

Alicia Harvey-Vera, Sheryl Munoz, Irina Artamonova, Daniela Abramovitz, Maria Luisa Mittal, Cecilia Rosales, Steffanie A. Strathdee, Maria Gudelia Rangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: SARS-CoV-2 prevalence is elevated among people who inject drugs (PWID). In Tijuana, Mexico, COVID-19 vaccines became available to the general population in June 2021, but uptake among PWID was <10%. We studied COVID-19 vaccine uptake among PWID in Tijuana following implementation of a pop-up vaccination clinic. Methods: Beginning in October, 2020, PWID in Tijuana aged ≥18 years were enrolled into a longitudinal cohort study. At baseline and semi-annually, participants underwent interviewer-administered interviews on health behaviors and COVID-19 exposures through April 5, 2022. From June 21—September 20, 2021, staff referred PWID to a temporary COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinic that was coincidentally established near the study office. Participants attending the clinic completed a short interview on barriers to vaccination and were offered facilitated access to free Janssen® COVID-19 vaccine. All participants were reimbursed $5 for this interview, regardless of whether or not they chose to be vaccinated. Poisson regression was used to evaluate the effect of the pop-up clinic on COVID-19 vaccination uptake, controlling forpotential confounders. Results: Of 344 participants, 136 (39.5%) reported having received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose during the 10 months follow-up period, of whom 113 (83.1%) received vaccine at the pop-up clinic and 23 (16.9%) elsewhere. One third of those receiving COVID-19 vaccine during the pop-up clinic were previously vaccine hesitant. Attending the pop-up clinic was independently associated with higher rates of COVID-19 vaccination Adjusted Rate Ratio (AdjRR: 9.15; 95% CI: 5.68–14.74). Conclusions: We observed a significant increase in COVID-19 vaccine uptake associated with attending a temporary pop-up vaccine clinic in Tijuana suggesting that efforts to improve vaccination in this vulnerable population should include convenient locations and staff who have experience working with substance using populations. Since COVID-19 vaccination rates remain sub-optimal, sustained interventions to increase uptake are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number931306
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
StatePublished - Sep 6 2022


  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • people who inject drugs
  • sex work
  • substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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