HONOLULU (KHON2) — The new booster shots for COVID are out, and already thousands in Hawaii have rushed to get them. But if you’re having a hard time finding one, you’re not alone. KHON2 got answers about how to make it easier to continue protecting yourself from COVID.
Bivalent boosters — vaccines formulated to protect against the latest COVID variants — are on-island at clinics, hospitals and pharmacies statewide. But KHON2 has heard from viewers frustrated when trying to track one down.
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“You’re getting emails from people who want to get these vaccines, we are getting emails and responding to them,” said Department of Health spokesperson Brooks Baehr. “It’s great to know so many people are interested in getting their shots. We know some people are kind of struggling to make those appointments.”
So how can you cut through all the options to get what you’re looking for as soon as possible? Here are some tips from DOH:
“Go to vaccines.gov, just go to the internet, type vaccines.gov, and you can pick the product and not only the product, but whether this is a primary series of booster or the new bivalent booster,” Baehr said, “and I found that to be an easy tool when I went on there, I’m scheduling one for my mom.”
The shots are still free and it doesn’t matter whether you have medical insurance or who your carrier is if you are insured.
“Kaiser is offering vaccines to members and nonmembers,” Baehr said. “If you’re a non-Kaiser member, and you’re finding trouble scheduling a vaccine elsewhere, go ahead and check the Kaiser tab, you might be able to get a vaccine through them.”
Right now there is more of one kind of booster on island than another.
“We think those are primarily people who are interested in getting the Moderna product, because our supply so far has been somewhat limited as far as Moderna,” Baehr said, “but we are really flush with Pfizer.”
Experts said it is safe to mix and match.
“If you got the Moderna you can cross over and get the Pfizer,” Baehr said. “If you got the Pfizer you can cross over and get the Moderna. If you got the J&J you can go ahead and get the booster of the Pfizer or Moderna. All it has to be is that you have completed your initial series of vaccine at least two months ago.”
So far more than 11,000 people have gotten one.
“That data just encapsulates one week, but the beginning of that week people didn’t even have these doses yet,” Baehr said, “and we had been only doing about 4,000 or 5000 vaccines — all vaccines — every week until that point.”
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There’s still plenty to go around. The state brought in nearly 55,000 Pfizer doses with more coming this week, and over 10,000 Moderna shots. The state’s batches go to hospitals, clinics and some community health centers. Pharmacies, the Department of Defense and the community health centers also are ordering independently.