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Clinics see high turnout as COVID vaccine eligibility expands to 12 to 15-year-olds

Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 6:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Queen’s Health System held its first high school clinic Saturday since the COVID vaccine became available for children as young as 12 years old.

Mckinley High School’s gym transformed into a medical clinic with a line of people wrapped around the building waiting to get their Pfizer shot.

A high turnout from the 12-to-15 age group surprised the Queen’s Health System.

Dr. Julius Pham, chair of the COVID Committee at Queen’s Health System said they haven’t seen this many people eager to get the shot since the early days of the vaccine effort.

“We’ve got a walk-in line that’s longer than the appointment line,” said Pham.

Pham said about 400 people scheduled an appointment while about another 150 to 200 people walked in.

The state Department of Education, Department of Health and medical providers have been vaccinating those age 12 and up at high schools since Thursday.

DOH said there are about 55,000 children between the age of 12 to 15 living in the state.

Pham said vaccinating this age groups gets the state a step closer to being back to normal.

“Having kids vaccinated is going to allow them to get back to youth sports, get back to in person schools, allow them to play with their friends and everything we want,” said Pham.

It’s an opportunity Wendy Oh Young of Honolulu quickly jumped on.

“As soon as I was able to get my sons vaccinated, just makes me feel more secure because of my health condition,” said Wendy. “And I want them to go back to school, they’ve been online the whole time.”

Oh Young’s sons, Luke who is in middle school and Joshua who is in high school, are hoping this means getting to be with their friends again.

“Yeah, like going outside with my friends, hang out, go places,” said Luke.

“Hopefully, later on in the future, you know, as more people get vaccinated, we can take off our mask and then we can go out more, go to school, hopefully,” said Joshua.

Pham expects the interest to be just as high as they continue to vaccinate at high schools in Central Oahu this coming week including Leilehua and Waialua.

Hawaii Pacific Health will also be making school rounds setting up clinics at 12 campuses in the span of about 2 weeks.

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