MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID vaccinations for children and families being protected this Thanksgiving were the two big topics during the Shelby County Health Department’s COVID-19 task force briefing on Thursday afternoon.

“We still have COVID-19 in our community and we still have a good proportion of our community that is not vaccinated,” director Dr. Michelle Taylor said.

Taylor warned that we can’t let our guard down as we look ahead to the holidays.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 tracker, there is still substantial COVID-19 transmission in Shelby County.

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving, we asked the director for her recommendations to stay safe. 

“Please, please if you are planning on gathering, the recommendation is that everyone should be tested within at least 72 hours of gathering to make sure that you know the status of everyone that may be coming into your home,” Taylor said.

When it comes to protecting the family as a whole, Taylor also talked about the push to get children ages 5-11 vaccinated. She said a little more than 5% of that age group has received their shot, while a little more than 40% ages 12-17 have been vaccinated.

“For parents who are worried about the vaccine, what I would tell you is I would worry more about my child or any child getting COVID and us not knowing the long-term consequences of them being infected with COVID,” Taylor said.

She said the COVID vaccine is safe and effective.

“I believe that this is the best way to get us on the road to getting out of this pandemic. As you know we’re going to be on a rollercoaster ride for a while with numbers going up and then going down depending on our behaviors,” Taylor said.

By protecting the children, Taylor believes we will be on a much better footing in the coming months.