The Shelby County Health Department is making plans for children ages five to 11 to be able get a COVID-19 vaccine. 

A day after the White House unveiled plans to roll out coronavirus vaccines for children ages five through 11, Dr. Michelle Taylor, the Shelby County Health Department Director, called it a potential difference maker.

“That’s going to be a gamechanger not only for the country, but especially Shelby County. It will drive our vaccination rates up and most importantly it will protect even more people in our community,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the health department will be ready.

Shelby County Health Department and the other providers in the community will be prepared to start giving those vaccinations almost as soon as they are approved. We are making preparations now.”

For example, the health department is deciding whether the vaccines will be given out at school or pharmacies or use a mass vaccination site such as the Pipkin building.

“We know that more than likely we will need a separate tent. We need to more than likely have a separate lane and take those kids out of the car and hold them more effectively than we’d have to do as an adult,” Taylor said.

As many await approval of the vaccine, many businesses with 100 or more employees await federal regulations on vaccine mandates.

Dr. Taylor said the health department has been consulting with many businesses.

As for mask restrictions being eased when a new health directive comes out next week, Dr. Taylor is still urging the public to be patient.

“If we can keep our mitigation efforts in place a little bit longer, especially with the holidays approaching and people planning to gather, and I believe that if we can get those five to 11-year-old approved for vaccinations and vaccinated then we can talk about easing restrictions.” Taylor said.

Dr. Taylor said almost 44-percent of people eligible to get the vaccine in Shelby county are now fully vaccinated.