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DOH: Booster shots now available, but priority remains providing access to unvaccinated

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 12:22 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 24, 2021 at 5:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As it kicks off the distribution of COVID booster shots to those who are eligible, the state said the priority will remain ensuring access to shots for those not yet vaccinated.

“Please allow those who are not fully vaccinated to get vaccinated first, since they are at highest risk,” said State Health Director, Dr. Libby Char.

At this time, booster doses are only available to those who got the Pfizer shot.

Booster doses should be administered at least six months after someone got their second dose.

Following CDC guidance, the state Health Department is recommending providers:

  • Give priority for vaccine doses to the unvaccinated over administering booster doses;
  • Give priority for booster doses to those 65 and older or those 50 to 64 with underlying conditions. Waning immunity in these populations puts them at higher risk for severe illness.
  • Consider booster doses for other high-risk populations, as supply allows.

“We’re not going to stand at individual vaccination sites and you know, take full medical histories and make people prove things,” said Char. “But we would hope that they would honor that because at the end of the day, it’s all about keeping our community safe.”

In addition to seniors, other groups eligible for booster doses include:

  • Those 18 to 49 with underlying medical conditions;
  • And those 18 to 64 who are at high risk because of occupational or institutional exposure.

State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said there is no need to rush to vaccination sites for boosters.

“We will have enough booster shots for everyone, but please allow those at highest risk for severe illness to receive their shots first,” she said, in a news release. “DOH’s first priority will remain encouraging unvaccinated Hawaii residents to complete their primary vaccine series.”

Booster shots are already being administered by a host of providers in Hawaii, including pharmacies.

Char said there are about 90,000 Pfizer doses currently in Hawaii.

“Let’s go through this process calmly,” she said, adding that people seeking booster shots should bring their vaccine cards with them to appointments.

“I see no reason that everybody needs to rush out and get it in the first week.”

Meanwhile, there are separate discussions happening about the possibility of booster shots for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Those who got those brands shouldn’t get a Pfizer booster. Instead, they should wait for additional guidance from the CDC and state Health Department.

This story will be updated.

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