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Once vaccine for younger kids gets OK, more than 100 schools to host vaccination sites

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 11:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state plans to vaccinate keiki at participating schools once the Pfizer COVID vaccine gets the green light for children ages 5 to 11.

The decision by the FDA could come as soon as next week.

State Department of Health spokesperson Brooks Baehr said 113 schools have already agreed to become vaccination sites.

He said they want to make sure they’re prepared to roll out the vaccine effort for kids ages 5 through 11 once it’s endorsed by the federal government.

“We’re in the planning stages, getting ready for this eventuality expecting that the vaccines will likely be approved,” said Baehr. “But we really want to see what the federal regulators do when they review the scientific evidence before we say go.”

Schools aren’t the only places vaccines will be available for keiki.

If approved, they’ll be offered at medical facilities, pop-up clinics, pharmacies and even by some independent pediatricians.

But the state wants to make it as convenient as possible for families.

Parents will need to submit a consent form and have the option to be with their child when they get the shot.

“It’s all about making sure that the parent is informed and comfortable with not only the decision, but the actual vaccination process itself,” said Baehr.

According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a third of parents of 5- to 11-year-olds say they will vaccinate their child right away once a vaccine is available for their their age group.

“I think is great,” said Alan Iwata, of Honolulu. “It’s just good to have another option out there. It’s hard enough to get people to get vaccinated and just good to have that option for the kids.”

“As far as for the kids, I mean, do they really have a choice?” asked Myke Smith of Ewa Beach. “It’s up to pretty much their parents and that’s a tough decision.”

Hawaii Board of Education Chair Catherine Payne stressed the schools-based vaccinations are about convenience. “It’s not that the schools who are requiring this in any way,” Payne said.

“So for those who are not ready to have their children vaccinated, this is not a requirement, as we do have vaccines that are requirements for attending school.”

The state has not said which schools are participating.

When kids 12 to 17 became eligible, there were 150 public school vaccination pop-ups.

DOH says they’ve already placed an order of 41,700 doses for keiki. “That should cover about a third of our population have those five through eleven,” Baehr said. “And those 41,700 doses can be shipped to Hawaii if the FDA issues an emergency use authorization for the keiki vaccine.”

Doctors say some children might experience a sore arm, fever, and flu-like symptoms. There’s also a rare side effect of a treatable condition that causes inflammation around the heart.

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