SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- With the recent availability for children ages 5-11 now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department held a press briefing on what that means here in the Ozarks.

Leaders with the Health Department and area partners provided updates on COVID-19 cases, the vaccine clinic, and COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11. Children in that age group will be in attendance to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the end of the briefing.

Katie Towns, SGCHD Director, started the briefing with an emotional appreciation of all the children in attendance to receive the vaccine.

Towns talked about two vaccine opportunities the Health Department and Springfield Public Schools will be hosting later this year. SPS Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan expanded more on those vaccine opportunities.

Lathan said the first vaccine clinic for students, staff, and their families is on Saturday, November 20, at Williams Elementary, located at 2205 W. Kearney Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The second dose clinic will be held on Saturday, December 11, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. also at Williams Elementary.

“These events will provide another opportunity for all eligible SPS staff and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the semester,” Lathan said.

She added that the SPS masking mandate will be lifted when students return from winter break in 2022. Masking on school buses will remain in effect until the federal mandate is lifted.

Students and families can also receive vaccines at the Health Department clinic at 1425 E. Battlefield Rd. (old Toys R Us) beginning Thursday.

Due to increasing demand, an appointment is required for children to be accommodated. Parents can make a vaccine appointment for their child with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department by visiting vaccine417.com or calling the COVID-19 Call Center at (417) 874-1211.

If you have any questions in regards to the pediatric dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the Health Department continues to be a vaccine answer resource.

Children can also get vaccinated at Walgreens, Walmart, and Sam’s Club.

Dr. Graham Reinhard with Mercy stated that Mercy Springfield will start offering vaccines for ages 5-11 Monday with 300 doses available and will be receiving more doses Tuesday. He added that if residents go to Mercy Springfield’s website and do not see vaccine appointments available it is because they are all booked up, but more are on the way.

“We will also be rolling out the vaccine to our surrounding regional clinics and facilities and those will be listed on the same website,” Dr. Reinhard stated.

Casey Morton with Jordan Valley Community Health Center says the center will offer walk-in vaccine clinics for children 5 and up.

Amanda Hedgpeth with CoxHealth stated that Cox is expecting the arrival of 600 doses of vaccine for children 5 and up Thursday and will update the community on various platforms. Hedgepeth says Cox will continue hosting clinics in the various communities it serves. She adds to schedule a vaccine appointment, anyone can call 417-269-1300 to set up an appointment for any age eligible.

Towns added that at the 1425 E. Battlefield Rd. vaccine location, there are former dressing rooms that will serve as semi-private vaccination areas for children who are nervous about getting the shot. Shortly after, several kids sitting next to Towns received their first dose of the vaccine.