As omicron concerns mount, Shelby County opens COVID boosters to ages 16 and 17

A young girl sitting on a red chair wearing a black shirt with a long, black ponytail holds up her sleeve while a woman in a blue and gray shirt stands next to her and inserts a syringe in her shoulder.
COVID booster shots are now available to Shelby County’s 16 and 17 year olds, the health department announced Thursday. (Carson TerBush / Chalkbeat)

As families and school officials prepare for holiday break amid concerns about a new COVID variant, the Shelby County Health Department announced Thursday that 16- and 17-year-olds are now eligible for booster shots.

Anyone aged 16 and over who received their second Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago can now receive a third shot, the department said in a news release. Health officials ask teens to bring their vaccination card or record along to the vaccination site, as well as proof of age. Officials emphasized that all children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Vaccinations are “widely available” in pharmacies across the county, the department said, but teens can also visit a public vaccination clinic. The health department immunization clinic, at 814 Jefferson Ave., is open to ages 5 and over, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., every Monday through Friday, except on Shelby County government holidays.

This weekend, there are also two other public vaccination events:

  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday at Germantown Baptist Church, 9450 Poplar Ave.
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday at Collage Dance Collective, 505 Tillman St.

To find a vaccination near you, visit vaccines.gov.

The health department’s announcement comes as some schools  around the country have opted to extend winter break in anticipation of the more-contagious omicron variant. Schools in Missouri, Washington D.C., and New York City have shut down and started holiday break early due to COVID outbreaks, the Daily Beast reported Thursday. And, in the United Kingdom, where omicron is already surging, scores of schools and colleges are closing early for the holidays.

In Shelby County Schools, COVID cases are on the rise — but not at the peak levels seen in summer and early fall. Last week, 90 students and 28 staff members were infected with COVID, according to the district dashboard. In total, the district has reported nearly 4,000 cases among students and almost 700 cases among staff since the school year began.

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