Shelby County Health Department extends hours to get more children vaccinated

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 10:11 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:25 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) is extending its hours this week in hopes of getting more children vaccinated.

The department will be keeping its doors open through Thursday until 7:30 p.m. No appointment is needed.

Shelby County health workers stayed on the job at the main office at 814 Jefferson long after the sun went down to help folks like Sandra Whittington get her 6-year-old grandson his first Pfizer COVID-19 shot.

She says it’s been difficult to find the time to get her grandson the shot.

“It’s desperately something that he needs. I’ve already had all of mine and we’ve had a daycare close already because of people with COVID. So, I want the most protection that I can get for him,” said Whittington.

There are currently about 92,000 five to 11-year-olds in Shelby County. About 4.2 percent have already gotten their first shot. That adds up to about 4,000 children.

“That’s in just about a week and a half, so we are vaccinating kids at a pretty steady clip and their parents are really, really wanting to get their kids vaccinated,” said SCHD Director Dr. Michelle Taylor.

Taylor told commissioners Monday that she is pleased with the pace children are getting vaccinated.

However, the overall case count has seen a slight uptick. In the last couple of weeks, the seven-day average was around 80 cases. It’s now increased to 121.

Taylor says the county’s COVID-19 reproductive number or the likelihood of transmission is now at 1.03

“As we’ve talked about previously when the RT number goes above one, that means that community transmission may be accelerating,” said Taylor.

Taylor says the health department is taking additional steps to make vaccination more accessible, including longer hours at the Jefferson location and planning for additional vaccination pods.

While cases are increasing, it’s still unclear if we could see the type of surge we saw this past summer.

“So, what we are seeing is a trend that we’re seeing across the country, where we think that if there is an additional surge, it won’t be as steep,” Taylor said.

Her biggest concern is if another COVID-19 variant forms, making the community susceptible to another COVID wave.

In Shelby County, about 46 percent of people are fully vaccinated. That’s falling short of the county’s 70 percent goal.

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