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Port Arthur ISD to offer COVID vaccinations on campus; Port Arthur Health Department vaccinating children

The Port Arthur Health Department, which serves all of Mid and South counties, on Thursday began administering COVID vaccines to children ages 12 and older.

The clinic had been using the Pfizer two-dose vaccine for teens 16 and 17 that had been approved to receive it.

Parents are asked to call (409) 332-6215 and make an appointment for their child.

On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved lowering the age group for Pfizer vaccines.

And with Wednesday’s unanimous vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to all Pfizer to be given to ages 12 and up, the clinic is preparing for an influx in younger patients.

“To me, this is very important,” said Health Department Director Judith Smith. “We’ve not had a lot of positive cases reported lately, but the ones that have been reported, we’ve seen children in that age group.”

The Port Arthur vaccine hub is now located in the Texas Artist Museum building, 3501 Cultural Center Drive. (Chris Moore/The News)

From May 4 to May 11, the department confirmed four cases in children ages 5-9, and two in children 10-14.

Port Arthur ISD spokesperson Kristyn Cathey said any plans to add COVID vaccinations to the list of public school requirements would have to come from the Texas Education Agency, but is not expected to happen as children under 12 cannot currently receive one.

The district doesn’t currently require educators to be vaccinated.

“I am supportive of children, ages 12 and up, being able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Superintendent Mark Porterie said in a written statement. “The PAISD is preparing for all of its students returning to in-person learning on August 11, 2021. I encourage all students and adults, 12 and up, who have not been vaccinated to weigh their options.”

The district will continue to clean, disinfect all areas of its buildings, he added, and require masks for staff and students.

“The PAISD has partnered with the Gulf Coast Health Center, Inc. to provide a mobile vaccination site on our campus for adults and students, with parental permission, to receive the COVID vaccine,” Porterie said.

Smith said parents wanting to bring their child to the department’s vaccine hub do not need to bring any verification other than their own identification cards in order to have their child vaccinated.

Those who are not able to bring their child in person can send written consent with another person, however the clinic will remain open next week on Tuesday and Thursday until 7 p.m. to allow for working parents.

Normal hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The vaccination hub is located in the Texas Artists Museum (TAMS) building, 3501 Cultural Center Drive.