Port Arthur vaccine site extends Thursday hours. Officials talk need to get more participation.
The COVID-19 vaccine hub in Port Arthur will have extended hours of operation on Thursday (March 25).
The hours are from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, 3401 Cultural Center Drive.
This marks the first time the hub, operated by the Port Arthur Health Department, is offering extended hours. If there is a good turnout, officials may offer extended hours at a later date, said Judith Smith, director of health services.
Currently vaccines are being administered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“If we do extended hours, I think it would work a little better with most of the people working here,” Smith said.
Nurses from the health department, as well as volunteers from other various departments and some nursing classes — all of which are trained — are administering the vaccines.
The Texas Department of State Health Services announced this week that on March 29 all adults would be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently older individuals and those with certain medical conditions are eligible.
On Wednesday, Jefferson County announced starting immediately, all vaccination locations under the regional hub will be open to all adults over the age of 18 in Texas to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jefferson County Commissioner Michael Sinegal is pleased to hear of the Port Arthur Health Department’s extended hours.
“I think extended hours, extended days (weekends), whatever is necessary to try and make sure everyone has the opportunity to receive the vaccine,” Sinegal said.
The Precinct 3 representative said the issue was discussed during a recent commissioners meeting, where he learned the government is predicting more vaccines will be made available. Some people, he said, are waiting on the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, but added it is a dangerous move as one could contract COVID wile waiting.
Sinegal commended Smith’s effort leading the Port Arthur Health Department.
Smith said on Tuesday they gave out 262 first doses and 486 second doses. On Monday they administered 270 first doses and 503 second doses.
“We still want to encourage people to take the first dose and are happy to see they are returning for the second dose,” she said.
Smith said on March 5 they gave out 1,107 first doses. Those individuals are due for their second dose by March 28.
The use of the civic center as a hub is ideal in Smith’s viewpoint.
“Being here allows us to see those individuals who come in, because we can socially distance. I don’t think we have that advantage at the health department,” she said.
The Port Arthur Health Department, located at 449 Austin Ave., is a two-story facility that provides a number of services.
“On any given day if we’re seeing 700 people. I don’t know if we would be able to do that (at the downtown location). We were doing it downstairs and upstairs there. I don’t think we can accommodate that many,” she said.
Information from the Jefferson County Regional Emergency Operation Center shows the city of Port Arthur administered 14,372 first doses and 2,885 second doses total as of March 23.
Port Arthur and Mid-County residents can register for the vaccine at vaccine.beaumonttexas.gov or call 409- 550-2536 and select option 4.
Officials ask the public to assist neighbors and relatives that do not have internet access.
Walk-ins are welcome, Smith said.
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