HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially given the green light for kids ages five and under to get the COVID vaccine.
“It’s exciting to know that the experts and the federal regulators have determined that both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine for young keiki are both safe and effective,” said Brooks Baehr, spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Health.
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Pfizer is administered in a three-shot series for kids. The second shot is given three weeks after the first and the final shot two months later.
Moderna requires two shots. The second is administered four weeks after the first.
Baehr said the vaccines are tailor-made for younger children with smaller doses and smaller needles.
The health department estimates about 80,000 children six months to five-years-old in the state.
Officials said hundreds have already been infected with the virus.
“And sometimes there are long-lasting effects, long-haul COVID,” Baehr explained. “These vaccines will help guard against that.”
Thousands of doses are currently on their way to meet demand.
“The 27,500 doses that we have already ordered, that will be coming in the coming week, will be going to hospitals, clinics and pediatricians’ offices around the state,” Brooks said. “But pharmacies and community health centers are also getting vaccines they’re ordering directly from the manufacturers.”
The vaccine is optional and the health department said parents should talk to their pediatrician to see whether the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is right for their child.
Parents have mixed feelings about the shot.
“I think it’s great that it’s now available to children five and under,” said Erin Lafleur.
Her five-year-old daughter Mika starts kindergarten this fall, she wants to make sure she’s protected.
“I think it’s kind of a responsibility that we have in our community to take care of our children and make sure that they’re protected,” Lafleur said. “Even though that may not be 100%. But something is better than nothing.”
Oscar Cornejo said he does plan to vaccinate his two-year-old daughter Zoe, but will talk to her doctor first.
“We worry about the side effect,” Cornejo said, “But I will do it because I think it’s a protection. So if she gets COVID she will be protected.”
Josh Carroll told KHON2 he’s not against the vaccine but doesn’t feel comfortable giving it to his nine-month-old daughter Daniella.
“I personally didn’t get it, but my wife did so we’re kind of a different kind of household than most,” Carroll explained. “But I don’t think it’s a good idea to give to my child at this time. Maybe after a lot more research and development is done, maybe at that time.”
Lafleur said that with any vaccination there is always a risk, regardless.
“But I think the benefits do outweigh the risks,” she added.
In a statement Kaiser Permanente said:
“Kaiser Permanente is planning to begin offering COVID-19 vaccine to children under five years of age by June 27 at 13 vaccination sites across the state. To schedule an appointment for yourself or your child at kp.org/evisits. If you are having trouble making an appointment online, please call 808-432-2000, Monday through Friday. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”
Queen’s Medical Center and Hawaii Pacific Health said they are still working out the details but are planning on offering the vaccine.
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The health department said they will post vaccination information at this link in the coming days.