MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City of Memphis leaders and health officials are hoping to increase vaccinations rates among youth. The push comes as Pfizer asked the FDA to authorize their vaccine for children between 5 to 11.

As coronavirus cases continue to fall across the Mid-South, there is a concerning trend health leaders have noticed: not enough children are getting vaccinated.

One Memphis mother, Tamara Watkins, hopes her son’s experience motivates parents and kids to take action.

“Just to see my child in the situation, where he was asking me ‘Mom, is this how it ends?’ It’s just a experience that I wouldn’t wanna wish on anyone,” Watkins said.

Watkins’ 15-year-old son spent nearly two weeks in the hospital battling COVID-19. For her, the most difficult things was watching him become of shell of himself.

“He couldn’t breathe on his own, or he could move feed himself, or he couldn’t bathe himself, or even like the simplest task, to use the restroom,” Watkins said. “I had to be there for him.”

The City of Memphis is launching a new initiative aimed at at increasing vaccination rates among youth. Ike Griffith, director of Memphis Office of Youth Services, has organized a forum where they will discuss the importance of children being vaccinated.

The forum will be held Friday at 9:01 a.m.

“We are losing too many of our young people, and I think if we can educate them, letting them know that their age group right now is being targeted, and it so very important that we make them aware of the casualties that the COVID-19 is producing,” Griffith said.

The majority of COVID cases across Memphis are among the unvaccinated. Watkins’ son was unvaccinated when he was hospitalized. It’s a decision she now regrets and hopes others think twice before choosing to not get the shot.

“You have the choice to protect your family, and I really feel like if you haven’t had that vaccination or if your children that aren’t of age that can get it, just give them a chance to live, give them a chance to not experience what my son had experience,” Watkins said.