Doctors fear another COVID surge if more parents don’t get their kids vaccinated

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While COVID-19 cases among children are on the decline in Shelby County, doctors fear another surge may be on the way if more parents don’t get their kids vaccinated.

The Shelby County Health Department reports only seven percent of children in the county are currently vaccinated.

Some of that is because the shot is not yet eligible for children under 12, but doctors say that number has the potential to be much higher.

“Since school is in person, I think it’s a good idea,” Tia Robinson of Memphis said.

Robinson’s baby niece isn’t old enough for the COVID-19 vaccine. If it’s approved for her age group in the future, she said she’d want her to get the shot.

“Think about the case rates they keep rising, the issues, people dying from it,” she said.

Pfizer recently announced their vaccine is safe and effective for children 5 to 11. Dr. Sandy Arnold at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital hopes this will help to raise the vaccination numbers.

“We should be taking every opportunity we can to prevent illness in our children that could land them in a hospital or the ICU,” she said.

Though cases among children are dropping in the county, Dr. Arnold said the vaccination rates are worrisome.

“Unless more people are vaccinated, we might see a surge just as bad as this one come the wintertime,” she said.

Dr. Arnold said most children ending up in the hospital are unvaccinated, even if they are old enough for the shot.

Still, some parents aren’t convinced.

“I feel like their immune system is not as strong as an adult, so I would say no to getting them vaccinated,” Tatiana Washington of Memphis said.

As for those on the fence, one parent has some advice.

“If you don’t get your kids vaccinated, make sure they have their masks completely on. That’s all I have to say,” Keke Lloyd said.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were eight COVID-positive patients at LeBonheur, with three on a ventilator.

Additionally, the hospital is treating three MIS-C patients.