The Texas Department of State Health Services announced today that teachers in Texas are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a memo released by DSHS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directed states yesterday to expand vaccine eligibility to include people who work in school and child care operations. As stated in the federal directive, this includes:

“those who work in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs (including teachers, staff, and bus drivers) and those who work as or for licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers.”

In light of this federal directive, all vaccine providers in Texas are directed to immediately include this personnel in vaccination administration. This action does not change the other groups prioritized for vaccination in Texas, and facilities are encouraged to continue their efforts to vaccinate older adults since the burden of COVID-19 falls so severely on people ages 65 and older.

Locally, Texas DSHS has reported 23 new Bowie County cases since yesterday for a total of 4,578 positive COVID-19 cases, and 2,004 probable cases with 183 deaths. The Department of State Health Services is reporting 505 active cases currently in Bowie County.

Free lower-nasal swab COVID-19 testing is still available at the Texarkana-Bowie County Family Health Center, 902 W. 12th Street, Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but faster service is available by registering online at Texas.fulgentgenetics.com. Results will return in 2-3 days.

For more information, call 877-862-4647.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.