HONOLULU (KHON2) — A steady flow of people showed up to get their third COVID vaccine shot at Hawaii Pacific Health’s (HPH) vaccination site at Moanalua High School. One patient said it was not a difficult choice when deciding whether to get a third dose.
Tyler Tavares said she got her initial two doses of the COVID vaccine in February. Six months later, she is part of the eligible group welcomed to get a third shot.
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“I just think that’s the only way we’re going to move on and have normal life,” Tavares said, “and I just feel so good that I’m getting my third.”
HPH began vaccinating patients with compromised immune systems on Saturday. The Queen’s Health Systems will begin administering third doses on Wednesday.
HPH Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Douglas Kwock said only certain people are eligible for the shot at the moment. These include patients with diseases such as cancer, HIV and chronic kidney disease.
“The population is at risk for severe infection if they were to get a breakthrough infection,” Dr. Kwock said. “They can transmit it a little more easily to others, like household contacts, because they can shed the virus for longer, so for those reasons this was a prioritized population.”
A third COVID vaccine has not yet been authorized for the general population. The Hawaii State Department of Health said it is awaiting guidance from the CDC.
Dr. Kwock said HPH has begun planning but is also waiting for federal guidance.
“We’re presuming that it might be rolled out in a tiered fashion, the way individuals initially was like for healthcare workers and first responders and high risk individuals,” Dr. Kwock said. “That would be the first tier to get the boosters and gradually down from there — that’s what we’re anticipating. “
Dr. Kwock said even when more people become eligible for the third shot, there is evidence that the vaccines continue to work against severe illness.
“The immunity is lasting enough to protect you from getting severe infection or hospitalization. We’ve seen that in our current hospitalization rate,” Dr. Kwock said. “The vast majority of our hospitalized COVID positive individuals are unvaccinated.”
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An announcement from the federal government is expected soon for when the rest of the vaccinated population can receive a booster COVID vaccine shot.