Hawaii kids ages 5 to 11 start rolling up their sleeves for COVID vaccine

The younger kids are getting a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:30 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2021 at 5:52 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was a day many parents said couldn’t come soon enough.

On Wednesday, Hawaii keiki ages 5 to 11 started rolling up their sleeves for COVID vaccines. The Pfizer doses approved for younger kids are one third the adult dose and delivered with a smaller needle.

“My mom wanted to get me vaccinated before my school did it and she wanted me to get it early,” said 7-year-old Dane McCartin, after getting his shot at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.

He says he was little nervous, but then pleasantly surprised.

“I got the COVID vaccine and it doesn’t hurt,” he said, showing off the Band-aid on his arm.

McCartin was one of more than 100 keiki who got the COVID vaccine at Kapiolani on the first day it was available for 5- to 11-year-olds.

“We feel a special responsibility to get this right. We’ve modified our vaccine stations a little bit and created a bit more privacy so kids don’t make each other anxious,” said Dr. Melinda Ashton, executive vice president and chief quality officer at Hawaii Pacific Health.

Some studies show roughly a third of U.S. parents don’t plan to get their elementary-aged children vaccinated. Ashton says like other rollouts there will be an initial rush. She said hesitancy is understandable and urged parents to speak to their children’s pediatricians.

She added the vaccine is safe and there have been no severe side effects for young children.

“This is a new announcement for this age group. It’s not a new vaccine. Hundreds of millions of doses have been given of the Pfizer vaccine,” said Ashton.

One common issue: If your child is 11 and then turns 12 when it’s time for the second shot in three weeks, doctors and the CDC say your child then gets an adult dose for the second shot. The state’s pre-order of 41,700 doses is expected to be enough for about a third of the newly-eligible kids.

“The more people are vaccinated, including children, the less chance there is for these viruses to mutate. It’s still a very, very important part of our overall strategy to keep Hawaii safe,” said Hilton Raethel, CEO and president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

The vaccines are available at hospitals, community clinics and doctors offices. School vaccine clinics will start next week and parents are already starting to be contacted.

School officials say parents may or may not be able to accompany their children on campus, depending on the space of the school and the vaccine provider.

For information on vaccination clinics, go to HawaiiCovid19.com/vaccine.

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