Edinburg CISD vaccinating high school seniors

Edinburg CISD expects to have all seniors who are at least 18 years old and willing inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Wednesday, the first wave in a series of student vaccination clinics the district expects to last through the rest of the school year.

According to Anthony Garza, the district’s COVID-19 director, Edinburg CISD has about 1,500 seniors who are 18 and over, around 60% of whom signed up for a shot.

The district plans to give a vaccine to any of its 800 17-year-old seniors who want one within the next two weeks, as well as vaccinate its 2,500 juniors who are 16 or 17.

Garza says these vaccinations will likely be administered by the end of the school year.

“I think by June we will have gotten it out to all of them,” he said. “We’re going to get aggressive here.”

Seniors were a vaccination priority for the district, Garza said, because of the relatively small window of time Edinburg CISD has left to guide them.

“We’re concentrating on our seniors because these kids are going to the university level real soon, and we need them back on campus this last month or two so they can get their final preparation for the real world,” he said.

Age limits tied to different brands of COVID-19 vaccination brands have been a factor the district has had to account for. Doses of the Moderna vaccine, approved for individuals 18 and up, work for that first batch of seniors but not the 17-year-olds.

To vaccinate minor students, Garza says the district is relying on DHR Health and its Pfizer vaccinations.

“We don’t use Pfizer. DHR is our partner, we partner with them and they have the Pfizer vaccine, because you need specialized freezers to keep that vaccine colder than freezing. Really, really cold,” he said.

Like other districts in the area, Edinburg CISD has vaccinated all of its willing teachers and staff. Feedback has been good, he said, noting that principals have reported tensions easing on campuses as vaccination efforts ramp up.

Those efforts aren’t expected to slow down in the near future.

“We’re not stopping,” Garza said. “Right now we understand that one of the companies is doing 12- to 15-year-old research, and so as soon as that gets approved, ‘Here we go, we’re going to the middle schools now.’ It’s not going to end anytime soon.”

Garza says the district is proud of the roughly 14,000 doses it’s administered.

“We’re helping to save lives, one vaccine at a time,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story’s headline was updated for clarity.