HONOLULU (KHON2) — Children as young as 5 are now eligible for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine after the CDC Director gave the authorization Tuesday.
Hawaii’s Department of Health pre-ordered 41,700 doses, which they began receiving Monday. Some hospitals are ready to put shots into arms as soon as Wednesday.
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119,473 keiki in Hawaii fall under the 5-11 age group.
Hawaii Pacific Health will begin administering the vaccine Wednesday, with appointments now available to be scheduled by parents or legal guardians.
The Queen’s Health Systems will start taking appointments Thursday for a Friday start, while 130 schools are lined-up to have vaccination programs starting with a couple on Monday.
“We monitor every step of the process,” Department of Health spokesperson Brooks Baher said. “We watch them closely, and we’re confident that they did a thorough review. So Dr. Char was quick to say late this afternoon and yes, indeed. We are hitting the go button. It’s a green light.”
Parents or legal guardians are required to submit signed consent forms before anyone 17 and younger can be vaccinated. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the vaccine unless kids have very specific medical conditions or allergies.
“It is a third of the dose,” local Pediatrician Dr. Amy Harpstrite said. “All of the studies have shown that it’s very effective, and it gets a great antibody response. Studies have shown that it’s 91% effective at preventing severe COVID infection, and because it’s such a low dose the side effects are expected to be much more mild than with the adults,”
Currently COVID is the sixth leading cause of death of children in America. No cases of myocarditis, a condition of heart inflammation very rarely linked to the vaccines, were observed in Pfizer’s clinical trials.
“It is much higher risk if you have actually COVID,” Dr. Harpstrite said. “Anywhere between 20 to 30 times as high in some of the studies that the risk of actual myocarditis from COVID, but again, the thinking it’s going to be even lower in the age group that we are now clear to start vaccinating.”
The City and County of Honolulu says discussions are underway but no plans are finalized for including children 5-11 into the Safe Access Oahu program.
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The University of Hawaii tells KHON2 that keiki aged 5-11 will be allowed into sporting events once they are fully vaccinated with both doses.