Booster shots now available for children; slight rise in local COVID cases reported

Published 12:22 am Friday, May 27, 2022

Following approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control, the Port Arthur Public Health Department is able to administer COVID-19 booster shots to everyone 5-and-older five months after they receive their second vaccine.

“We have seen some, so that’s good,” said Health Director Judith Smith. “I’m hoping when school lets out, we’ll get more. We saw a slight increase in teens preparing to go to college. We’ve had first-time doses for those and a few boosters.”

Smith said while there has been a slight rise in local COVID cases, it hasn’t been concerning.

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Recently the department reported 29 new cases over the course of one week in Port Arthur, Nederland, Groves and Port Neches combined.

Most were unvaccinated.

“People are mingling more and getting more comfortable going back to places,” Smith said. “We’ve gotten a little bit relaxed. I think if we can remain at the rate we’re going, we will probably continue to be in a good place for the summer. But of course as people start vacationing and going on cruises, I think we may see an increase.”

People have, however, been requesting vaccinations ahead of summer travel plans.

“Some states have significantly high rates,” Smith said.

In an effort to vaccinate more school-age children, the health department has partnered with the Port Arthur Public Library.

Those that visit the current vaccination center on Cultural Drive will receive information on the library’s summer reading program, said Denise Boutte, R.N.

“In turn, the library, as they get kids signed up, they’ll give them a little card and encourage them to get their shots,”  Boutte said.

Those who do will be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift card.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, currently 61.39 percent of Jefferson County residents 5 and older have received one dose of the vaccine. The amount fully vaccinated is 53.69 percent.