As COVID cases increase in Shelby County, more kids are getting sicker, doctors say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Shelby County, including infection among some of our youngest residents.

Officials with LeBonheur Children’s Hospital say five children were in the hospital with the virus as of Tuesday afternoon.

Doctors at LeBonheur say only about a quarter of kids ages five to 11 have gotten the vaccine.

The numbers are even lower for kids under five.

The Shelby County Health Department says 511 kids six months to five years old have gotten at least one dose of the shot as of July 10.

Yardira Villalobos of Memphis understands the importance of the COVID vaccine.

Her oldest daughter has gotten both doses. But she’s hesitant to get her youngest kids the shot.

“For me, it’s better for them not to get the vaccine because they are too small, and I just don’t think it is good for them,” Villalobos said.

Childhood covid vaccines in Shelby County and across the country remain low.

But health experts insist the shot is safe, even for the youngest age group.

“That’s why it took so long to get the vaccine out to kids because they are very careful to test it first in adults and then kind of rationed it down the age groups one by one to make sure that our youngest and most vulnerable kids are the last ones to get it, and the ones that have the most testing,” Dr. Jon McCullers the chair of pediatrics at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital said.

Dr. McCullers said two lower-dose vaccines are now available to kids as young as six months of age.

As Covid cases climb in Shelby county, he said more kids are getting sick and need to be protected.

“It’s especially important to get those under five vaccinated, even more so than the older kids,” Dr. McCullers said. “If you’re under five, you’re about twice as likely to be in the hospital with covid than older kids are.”

As the school year nears, Dr. McCullers hopes to see vaccination rates increase.

Parents FOX13 talked to said they’re open to the idea.

“I trust a lot of research, and I like to see the long-term effects,” Katherine Walton of Memphis said.

Dr. McCullers aids parents should talk to their pediatrician about the vaccine.

He said now would be a great time to get it, as many kids are going in for back-to-school appointments and physicals.