Hawaii to expand coronavirus vaccine eligibility to those 16 and older

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Starting Monday, April 19, everyone in the state of Hawaii who is 16 years old and older will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s exciting because people can sign up simply and it doesn’t matter what age you are, or where you work or anything. Just sign up and get vaccinated if you believe in it,” said Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green.

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Sixteen and 17 year olds can only get the Pfizer vaccine. The Moderna vaccine is only accessible to those 18 and older and the one shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine is still on hold at this time.

“I know that we’ve already been getting requests for individuals that are 16 to 17, that are looking for where they’re going to be able to go for Pfizer. So I think it’ll be interesting [to see the turnout], and I hope we see that there’s a lot of demand out there,” explained Amy Curtis who works for the State Department of Health.

Some sites alternate which vaccine they distribute every other week; one week will be Pfizer, the next week will be Moderna. State health officials said there are roughly 200,000 residents who fall into the 16 to 50 year old range.

“There are a couple of sites that still have some availability toward the end of next week,” explained Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO.

Neighbor islands have already began allowing those 16 and older to get vaccinated with some locations now offering walk-ins.

But appointments aren’t filling up like before.

Over the weekend, Kaiser Permanente held two mass vaccination events in Ka’u on the Big Island, and Lahaina on Maui.

Out of 800 available doses at both locations, 400 were put in arms.

“I know we are concerned about vaccine hesitancy,” Raethel said. “So we’re working on a lot of messaging, to reach out to individuals to work with employer groups to provide incentives.”

“We’re talking about using social media. Part of it is just the messaging part of it. You know, some of us who are close to this, understand very clearly what’s going on the risks of not doing it, and how safe these vaccines are, but that messaging has not gotten to everyone,” he continued.

Lt. Governor Green hopes to reach statewide herd immunity by July 4, with a goal of about 70 to 85% of people vaccinated.

“By then, we will have done maybe 1.5 million shots, which is about 750,000 people, and we’ll be most of the way there,” he said. “The more the better, because we don’t want outbreaks, we don’t want variants, we don’t want any of this to catch hold in Hawaii.”

To see all available appointment options, including at pharmacies, click here.

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