HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Pfizer booster shot became available Friday, Sept. 24. But who can get it? Also, is it safe? After a great deal of confusion surrounding the booster, the Department of Health (DOH) issued updated guidelines for the booster shot.
The goal is to keep people out of the hospital by focusing on high-risk populations first.
Get news on the go with KHON 2GO, KHON’s morning podcast, every morning at 8
The most vulnerable people are those who are not yet vaccinated against COVID. DOH Director Dr. Libby Char said they are the top priority.
“We welcome all those who are currently unvaccinated who are eligible to please come forward and get vaccinated,” She said.
Once people have received their first two COVID doses, boosters will be prioritized for those aged 65 and older, as well as for anyone 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions.
Char said they have 90,000 booster shot doses on hand and are allotted a limited weekly supply. She is urging people to be patient.
“Let’s go through this process calmly, and let’s use it where it will make the biggest difference to us,” she said. “We will get enough vaccines for everybody who wants a dose.”
As more supply will become available, Char said they can administer the booster to the additional populations recommended. These populations include people who are 18 to 49 years old with underlying medical conditions and those 18 to 64 at high risk for occupational or institutional exposure.
The boosters can be taken six months after the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine. Char said it is safe and effective for those 18 and older.
“This is the most well-studied vaccine in the history of mankind with regards to the safety data,” She added.
CVS started offering the booster shot at 15 of its Hawaii locations Friday morning, and hospitals are also making it available at their vaccination sites.
The booster is only approved for Pfizer, and it is unknown when it will be cleared for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. Once the Pfizer vaccine is approved for children between the ages of 5 and 11, Char said the focus will be getting them their shots first.
Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page
“When we get word that the vaccine is authorized for those five to 11, that unvaccinated population will absolutely be a top priority,” Char said.