In early May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the administration of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as the only one suitable for the adolescent population of 12 years of age and older.

The Texas Education Agency soon thereafter announced that a school district could partner with a vaccine provider to administer the vaccine.

That is when the San Benito CISD and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in San Benito established a partnership to help return the local community to a sense of normalcy and take crucial steps toward ending the pandemic on a global level.

Partnership representatives scheduled a series of COVID-19 first and second dose vaccination clinics for students that were 12 years of age or older to be held at each of the district’s five secondary campuses: Berta Cabaza Middle School, Miller Jordan Middle School, Riverside Middle School, San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy, and San Benito High School.

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The invitation to be vaccinated was also extended to anyone in the student’s household that met the age criteria.

“The administrators of the schools began organizing from the beginning and always worked to make things right.  Every administered vaccine is documented in the ImmTrac2 Texas Immunization Registry with an immunization card given to each recipient,” said pharmacist Thomas A. Garza of The Medicine Shoppe.

“This is home for me, and we have pulled the community together to rally for this cause.  It is very important that we work together as a community,” continued Garza.

According to clinic organizers, the student vaccination initiative was a great success.

“There have been many COVID-related deaths, and while our school children have a lower risk of complications, they can still be carriers and take that illness to their family members who may have additional diseases or underlying health conditions that could result in death,” said San Benito Schools Health Services Coordinator Janette Rodriguez, RN.

(Courtesy photo)

According to Rodriguez, 686 students received both their first and second doses of the vaccine from trained medical professionals.

“Our hard-working school nurses, the South Texas Emergency Care EMS ambulance service paramedics, and the great staff at the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy were present at each clinic.  Everyone was outstanding, and their assistance was fundamental,” continued Rodriguez.

“I received the vaccine because I don’t want to get sick and want to be safe, precautious.  I encourage others to get the vaccine and hope this helps us go back to normal the next school year,” said ninth grader Antonio Cervantes.

“I am just happy that it did not hurt, and I feel fine.  I got the vaccine to feel safe,” indicated ninth grader Carolina Guerrero.

District and campus administrators, district nurses, and many other individuals invested countless hours to this vaccine initiative.  The vaccine was made available to students that met the age requirement, and parents then decided whether to vaccinate their children.

“We are incredibly appreciative of all our parents who have gotten and allowed their children to be vaccinated for the better good of our community,” Rodriguez concluded, quite thankfully.