Hawaii prioritizes kupuna for COVID booster shots, high risk jobs follow

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Department of Health released guidance on Friday on COVID booster shots. The DOH is prioritizing kupuna, although younger people with certain medical conditions and some job sectors may also qualify.

For now, the booster guidance is only for the Pfizer vaccine. The state is giving priority to seniors who are 65 years and older who got their first two doses at least six months ago.

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Second priority is given to people in jobs with high risk of exposure.

“Traditionally has been healthcare workers or first responders or correctional facility employees,” Hawaii Pacific Health Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Douglas Kwock said. “But you know, schools and teachers may also be considered in that category as well, a lot of it is left for individual judgement on what type of work you do and what type of exposure you get.”

People are asked to sign up for a booster shot appointment with a medical condition or reason for receiving the booster. No documentation will be required at most medical facilities, in some ways people will sign up using the honor system.

While on Maui, the boosters began being administered Monday at Maui Memorial Medical Center. The Maui Health System CEO Michael Rembis said supply is not an issue.

“There’s adequate supply of the vaccine available in the state of Hawaii,” Rembis said. “We have enough vaccine right now that if all of our slots were filled for the entire week, we can accommodate everyone that shows up.”

The booster guidance expands shot eligibility to more people. More than a month ago, a federal guidance came down for a third COVID dose for Modern and Pfizer vaccines, but that only covered severely immunocompromised individuals.

Those who got their third dose then are done with their vaccination series.

“It was felt that instead of a two shot series, a three shot series would be better for the that population the high risk population immunocompromised,” Dr. Kwock said. “That’s why it is refer to as a third shot for that population and not a booster shot.”

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Doctors said healthy, younger people who are fully vaccinated remain protected against the virus.

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