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Port Arthur Health Department receives vaccines; schedule of more still unknown

The Port Arthur Health Department is waiting to receive the bulk of its COVID-19 vaccines, which will be administered to healthcare workers and first responders.

The local health department received 100 doses on Tuesday, which are being administered this week, PAHD Director Judith Smith said, adding she hopes they receive more and is not sure why the initial number was so low.

Smith said she is aware the Beaumont Health Department also received only 100 doses initially and has no idea why some local pharmacies received more doses.

According to the Texas Department of State Heath Services, Texas continues to receive doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, and is distributing statewide to hospitals, pharmacies, local health departments, freestanding ERs and other clinics.

Currently front-line healthcare workers and first responders are on the vaccine list (1A). The next step, 1B, includes persons 65 and over and 16 and over with at least one chronic medical condition, including pregnancy, according to the DSHS website.

Fred Jackson, attorney to the county judge, said the county health department is waiting on the vaccine to arrive. The county is on the list to receive the vaccine, he said, but doesn’t now in advance when or where the doses will go.

Allotments arrived on Tuesday to hospitals and some pharmacies and they can only be used to distribute according to 1A first then 1B, Jackson said.

Jackson and Smith said have been inundated with calls of when the vaccine will be available to the public, something they do not have the answer to.

“I’m trying to be patient, but when the community is ready to be immunized and they’re calling us and I can’t give an answer, it’s frustrating,” Smith said.

COVID cases

As of Jan. 5, there were 245 new COVID-19 cases reported in Jefferson County — the highest number of cases reported per day so far, according to information from the county.

Hospitalizations and ICU utilization due to COVID remains very high in the county, as well.

Port Arthur and the Mid County area saw an increase of 70 cases on Tuesday with 28 in Port Arthur, 14 in Groves, 24 in Nederland and four in Port Neches.

Virtual town hall

The Port Arthur Health Department will host a virtual town hall session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to address vaccine questions.

Smith said some people are hesitant and don’t know if they will take the vaccine and she understands the hesitancy, which is the reason for the meeting.

Health professionals at the PAHD are up to date on the facts and have been trained in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The meeting will cover an array of related topics such as adverse reactions, dosage, length of intervals of vaccine, allergic reactions and how they are prepared should there be an anaphylaxis reaction.

The goal is to try and inform the community on these issues, and residents can make their own decisions.

“There is no end date for these vaccines,” Smith said. “People have to make up their mind, especially those in the younger age group with no underlying medical conditions. We don’t want people to get information from social media.”

Dr. Oscar Enriquez, the city’s health authority and staff, will take part in the town hall.

Those who want to join the meeting can call 415-655-0001.

The access code is 180 711 7773.

The password is m9NRvcDYu33.

To receive an invitation to the town hall, email judith.smith@portarthurtx.gov.