Why doctors say to vaccinate

COVID-19 shots for Memphis’ youngest kids arrived Wednesday at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, where the next steps will be communicating with families about why and how to get them.

Medical experts at Le Bonheur, Baptist Memorial Hospital, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Shelby County Health Department agree the vaccines for young children who are at least six months old and younger than five years are safe and effective.

“The vaccine is the best way to protect children from COVID-19,” Michelle Taylor, director of the Shelby County Health Department, wrote by email. “While children have lower risk of death and hospitalization from COVID-19, they can and do get very sick and develop lingering health impacts after COVID-19 infection.”

But survey data, combined with low vaccine uptake among kids ages five to 11, suggest this round of vaccine approval will not be as widely sought as initial vaccines for adults, which inspired lengthy wait times and social media posts describing where shots may be. Parents are hesitant, or at least less urgent, about shots for kids.

Connor, 5, sits on his dad Eric Sefton's lap while receiving his Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, now approved for 5-11 year olds, as children of staff members at Le Bonheur are some of the first to receive the vaccine on Thursday, Nov .  4, 2021.

“I think there’s going to be a large group of people that have been waiting for it for so long, and they’re in a rush to get it,” said Dr. Nick Hysmith, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Le Bonheur. “I’m concerned there might be a pretty steep drop off after that.”

Related:Memphis school-age children receive COVID-19 shots after nearly two pandemic years

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