Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Previously Published Works bannerUC San Diego

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



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.


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.


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).


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.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View