PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — A soccer team from Mexico received more than just an exciting match when they played Kalamazoo FC earlier this week.
The Chivas U-20 team was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine the morning after the game.
Dr. Arturo Alcalde, the team’s doctor, says 12 players and seven staff members got the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot Monday morning. About half of the team had already been vaccinated.
“It’s like fresh air for me knowing that my players and my staff and also myself are vaccinated,” Alcalde said.
He received his vaccine in Mexico but was excited for the opportunity to provide it to the team, which returned home Monday after the clinic.
“It was a great deal for us to vaccinate the player(s) because they are like 18, 19 years old, so here in Mexico we cannot have them vaccinated,” Alcalde said.
He said the players likely would have had to wait until the end of the year or January 2022 to get a shot in their country.
Kalamazoo City FC owner David Shufelt says he was glad to help.
“One of things that was pretty obvious as I was talking to their coaches and players is that the vaccine distribution in Mexico is way behind the United States,” he said.
He added that holding a pop-up vaccine clinic at SoccerZone Portage, where the team plays, was a first.
Bronson Healthcare administered the vaccine. Rita Cox, the system director of trauma and emergency preparedness, says smaller pop-up clinics have become the standard at this stage in the pandemic. People who were eager to get vaccinated have been able to do so; health officials are now targeting hesitant groups.
“We’ve really made partnering with other groups a priority with the COVID vaccination. As many shots in arms as we can give really benefits the whole community,” Cox said.
The vaccination will also make the process of competing easier for the Mexican players.
“Traveling internationally, they were having to test every week. By having the vaccine, they don’t have to do the test every week, so that makes it easier,” Shufelt said. “And plus they’re going back to their families.”
Alcalde said the team was grateful to have the opportunity to receive the vaccine.
“For the players, they were very, very happy and very amazed how easy it is to get vaccinated there in the United States,” Alcalde said.