The Ministry of Health prepares to vaccinate 5 years and over against COVID
The Port Arthur Department of Health is preparing to administer Pfizer vaccines to children 5 years of age and older following recent approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration.
However, the local office will first wait for approval from the Centers for Disease Control, which is expected to be discussed on Tuesday.
“Tomorrow the CDC will meet to discuss it and they will make the decision to approve what the FDA has already approved,” Health Director Judith Smith said Monday. “We won’t start until we receive confirmation from the CDC.”
Smith, however, said the local office that serves all of Mid and South County has trained with Texas Health and Human Services and has placed an order for additional Pfizer shots.
“We are prepared and ready,” she said.
Having already received calls and emails about it, Smith said they plan to vaccinate those 5 years old and later this week or next week.
But the number of children aged 12 to 17 currently vaccinated as approved earlier this year has slowed locally.
Smith said that at the moment the most people visiting the vaccination center were doing so for the recall – especially Moderna.
“The majority of the vaccines we administered at the Civic Center were Moderna,” she said of the third vaccine, approved last month. “That’s why we see so many people coming back for recalls.”
While there are some qualifications, the limitations on the recall shoots are so wide that everyone generally agrees with them, as long as six months have passed since their second shot.
People 65 and over are automatically allowed without restriction. Others who meet the requirements include those with underlying health issues or who work in high-risk environments.
“When we think of the population of the people we serve, we think of the places people work and the conditions of people in our city – they could be diabetic or obese,” Smith said, adding that both were considered to be at high risk. “Basically anyone 18 and over… and it’s been six months since their streak, most of them will be eligible.”
According to Texas Health and Human Services, 52.6% of Jefferson County residents aged 12 and older have been fully immunized.
But with the addition of children ages 5 and up, the question arises: Will COVID vaccinations be part of the annual requirements for public school students?
By order of Governor Greg Abbott, the possibility does not appear likely in the near future.
On October 11, Abbott signed an executive order strengthening the ban on any government entity from imposing vaccination warrants or requiring vaccination passports.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective and our best defense against the virus,” Abbott said in a written statement, “but should remain voluntary and never forced.
Douglas Loveday of the Texas Department of Health and Human Services said Port Arthur Newsmedia Monday, “We are following the direction of the legislator on vaccine requirements. “