MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Thursday, new details emerged of how the Shelby County Health Department and other local agencies will administer doses to 5 to 11-year-olds, once they are eligible to get the COVD-19 vaccine.
Shelby County Health Director Dr. Michelle Taylor believes that a decision by the FDA and CDC could come as early as next month, and the local COVID-19 Joint Task Force is already pre-planning how to get those doses in as many children's arms as possible.
There are 92,000 people in that age group who live in Shelby County.
"Everything is on the table so when we do get the protocol, we will be prepared to exercise whatever we are allowed to do in regards to vaccinating those 5 to 11-year-olds," Dr. Taylor said during the weekly briefing Thursday afternoon. "As you can imagine, that's going to be a game changer - not only for the country but especially Shelby County. It will drive our vaccination rates and most importantly it will protect even more people in our community."
Dr. Taylor said the task force is in constant communication with the Tennessee Department of Health on the Shelby County initial allotment of doses once it's approved at federal level.
She conceded how those doses will be given to children will likely be a little different.
"If there are mass vaccination sites for kids at existing sites, we know more than likely we need a separate tent and lane and possibly get those children out of the car and be able to hold them a little more effectively than we would have to do for an adult," Dr. Taylor added.
In the coming weeks, Dr. Taylor expects the task force will know more about how the dosage volume will be spread around to willing partners.
"I believe that parents are going to have a lot of options. We are already reaching out to different providers to ensure that those options are available, and so we will have more information as we get closer to an approval date with available resources for parents who choose to have their children vaccinated," Dr. Taylor said. "We want to make it as accessible as possible."
The update came as pediatric COVID cases stood at 24% of the entire population Thursday, compared to 28.9% last week and 29.9% two weeks ago.
3.8% of Shelby County's population has also received a booster dose and those third doses were the majority administered in recent weeks.
As for what the public can expect in the November Shelby County health directive, Dr. Taylor pointed to a quarter of Shelby County's population still vulnerable to getting infected with COVID and offered this to the public.
"We are really urging people to be patient with us. We want to protect everyone in the county. We know people are getting tired of this 19-month marathon but if we can keep our mitigation efforts in place for just a little longer, especially with the holidays approaching and people planning to gather," Dr. Taylor added.
Dr. Taylor said also data is leaning toward COVID being a lot like the flu in the coming years, meaning it likely will be more seasonally predictable, and more than likely people will get an annual COVID booster vaccine just like a flu shot.