MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tennessee Republican House leaders are urging Gov. Bill Lee to stop the state's health department from distributing COVID-19 shots to infants and toddlers.
In a letter sent to his office, House leaders believe it's not safe for children under five, despite the FDA authorizing Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children as young as six months old.
While the governor has not said if the state would delay or change the distribution of the vaccine, the Tennesee Department of Health said Monday they had pre-ordered doses for the "next available age group."
Infectious Disease Doctor Steve Threlkeld with Baptist Memorial Hospital said the vaccine is completely safe and parents need to have their children vaccinated now.
"The most dangerous thing your child can face is to face this thing without any immunity," Threlkeld said.
The CDC said parents have two choices: Pfizer's three-shot course, given over 11 weeks, and Moderna's two-shot regimen, each dose being a month apart. A child would be considered fully immunized after about two weeks.
Threlkeld did acknowledge children are not dying at the same rate as adults but did point out that many children are developing MIS-C and having long-term effects.
Threlkeld said this shot is the only thing that can protect them from the unknowns of the virus.
"Every layer from the onion that we peel off we seem to find there are other potential problems from this infection," he said.
When it comes to choosing the right vaccine for your child, Threlkeld said both are completely safe, but Pfizer has a slightly higher number of preventing symptomatic cases.
There's not enough research to determine if either vaccine would require a booster.
"If we see that the infection rate goes up after three to six months then that would be the time that we think about a booster, we just don't have that data quite yet," he said.
Both vaccines produce mild side effects. Threlkeld said the side effects are similar to other vaccines like the flu shot.
Your child may experience a fever, drowsiness and pain at the injection spot.
Shelby County hasn't announced when they will vaccinate the younger children, but you can still make an appointment at other pharmacies and clinics. Click here to find one near you.