Pfizer booster shots off to a slow start in Hawaii; those eligible are encouraged to sign up

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — More than 24,500 Hawaii residents have received their booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Health officials said most young, healthy individuals who got both Pfizer shots before April, or more than six months ago, have good protection against severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalizations.

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Some residents who fall under the following categories are encouraged to get their shots now.

“There are those who may get their booster shots depending on their particular situation,” explained Brooks Baehr, state health department spokesperson. “Those who should get their booster shots now are those who are 65 and older, and those who are age 50 and older, who have an underlying health condition that will put them at increased risk of severe illness, if they’re infected with COVID-19.”

He said those who may consider getting a booster shot are people 18 and older who have underlying health conditions, and those 18 and older whose job or occupation put them at increased risk of exposure.

Studies have shown waning immunity in Pfizer’s vaccine to particular groups, and the booster provides additional protection.

“If you’re 18 and older, and you come in contact with a lot of different people, and you’re really not sure what the vaccination status, well, then you may get yourself a booster shot,” Baehr added.

Baehr said the following people should also consider getting their booster shot.

“Look back at the initial vaccine roll-out. Look at the occupations that were at the top of that list.” he said. “People who work in healthcare were at the top of the list. Right behind them were first responders. Shortly thereafter, teachers and others who come in contact with a lot of people, and people who are critical infrastructure.”

“I like the way CDC director Rochelle Wolensky put it. She said that we’ve made it possible for you to get a booster shot, but if you’re in that ‘may’ category, it’s really up to you to decide whether or not you should get that booster,” Baehr said.

Health officials said side effects for the third shot are similar to the first and second, with fatigue and muscle soreness as the primary side effects.

“Primarily those side effects go away within maybe one to two days after you get the shot,” said Dr. Doug Kwock, Hawaii Pacific Health VP of Medical Affairs.

Thousands of residents 65 and older at long-term care facilities aren’t eligible for the booster shot just yet.

“A lot of the long-term care facilities, people there got themselves Moderna shots, and so they are not yet approved for boosters,” explained Baehr.

CDC studies have shown Moderna provides longer protection from hospitalizations and severe illness.

Dr. Kwock said the FDA Advisory Committee is reviewing data for Johnson & Johnson and Moderna boosters next week but reminds the public, even if you get a vaccine or booster, there is still a possibility you could get COVID-19.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

“The real benefit of the vaccines and the boosters is to prevent you from getting a serious infection that might progress to requiring hospitalization,” Baehr said.

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