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Mid-South health officials share plans to vaccinate elementary-aged children

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 7:05 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The first day of child COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11-years-old is a wrap, and health officials say they are working to make sure the vaccine is accessible to everyone.

“We want to continue to have a safe in-person learning environment for the school year, and this is just another step for getting there,” said Shelby County Health Director, Dr. Michelle Taylor.

During the Memphis-Shelby County Task Force meeting Thursday, Taylor said nearly 50 kids had gotten vaccinated by midday.

City officials say there are 42 authorized providers in Shelby County who can administer the vaccine, including pharmacies, private clinics and pediatrician offices.

“By early next week we should have most of the providers who are authorized to do those pediatric doses available,” said Dough McGowen, Chief Operating Officer for the City of Memphis.

The kids-sized vaccines are given in two shots, three weeks apart with smaller needles.

However, one major difference is the shots will not be administered in drive-thru locations.

“The pediatric dose is different than the adult dose and having both of those side by side being administered in a public drive-thru adds to the complexity and increases the possibility of error,” said McGowen.

For parents who can’t make it to the clinic during the day, the city announced a weekend and evening clinic that will be held at Glenview and Hickory Hill community centers on the following days:

  • Friday, November 12
  • Saturday, November 13
  • Friday, November 19
  • Saturday, November 20

Friday clinics will be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday clinics will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We are really looking at a Community Center approach taking into account the uniqueness of the 5 to 11 age group and how the vaccine has to be administered and also making sure parents have the accessibility they need,” said Taylor.

Meanwhile, Mississippi health officials are also preparing.

The Mississippi State Department of Health told Action News 5 it ordered 50,000 doses of the vaccine, and they are arriving at county health departments and other healthcare providers this week.

In Arkansas, vaccine doses began arriving this week and will continue to arrive until at least Saturday. So far, vaccines have arrived in 18 counties in Northeast Arkansas including Crittenden, Poinsett and Craighead counties.

Private Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are also preparing to administer vaccines to 5 to 11-year-olds.

CVS is now accepting appointments with shots starting Sunday, November 7.

While Walgreens will begin administering vaccines in stores on Saturday, November 6.

“We want to continue to have a safe in-person learning environment for the school year, and this is just another step for getting there,” said Taylor.

The Health Department’s immunization clinic for elementary-aged children is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 814 Jefferson Ave.

No appointment is necessary, but children must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian with documentation of the child’s birth date (birth certificates and shot records are accepted).

To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, click here.

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