MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The clock is ticking for parents who want their child to be fully vaccinated by Christmas. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital says doing it could be a monumental gift for family holiday gatherings while keeping everyone safe from COVID-19.

As many families make plans for the upcoming holidays, COVID-19 cases are on the rise, adding a sense of urgency for some parents to get their younger children vaccinated.

“It’s very important because of what’s going on. We don’t want them to get sick because with COVID, we don’t know what it would do to them,” said parent Michael Norman.

The Shelby County Health Department says about 5,000 younger age kids, now eligible for the vaccine, have been vaccinated in the past two weeks. Still, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is seeing kids sick from COVID.

“Even though we don’t have a dramatic number of children in the hospital, in the past few weeks we’ve had zero to two kids in the hospital. Today, we have four and one of those is on a ventilator,” said Dr. Sandy Arnold, Le Bonheur’s chief of pediatric infectious diseases.

To keep kids safe, Le Bonheur is urging parents to get their children vaccinated this weekend if they want them fully protected by Christmas.

“So, if they were vaccinated this weekend, we’d be looking at the second week in December for their second dose, and another two weeks to be fully vaccinated,” Arnold said. “Now is the time if you want your children to have the protection at Christmas.”

This Friday and Saturday, Le Bonheur, the City of Memphis and UT Health Science Center are teaming up offering two vaccine events at the Hickory Hill and Glenview Community Centers.

“So please, please come,” Arnold said. “You don’t have to sign up, just walk in and get your shot and go.”

Le Bonheur says the hours for the Hickory Hill and Glenview community centers vaccine events are Friday from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. No appointments are needed.