The Hawaii Department of Health has released new guidelines about Covid-19 booster shots for people who received the Pfizer vaccine.
The state says booster shots should be prioritized for people who are at least 65 years old and those who are between the ages of 50 and 64 but have underlying conditions and received their second Pfizer shot more than six months ago.
The state, which is following federal guidelines, doesn’t have recommendations yet for people who received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Adults aged 18 to 49 with underlying conditions and those who have high-risk jobs are eligible to receive booster shots as well. But Dr. Libby Char, the state health director, emphasized in a press conference Friday that the older groups are the priority.
“That’s the prioritization that we’re following to make sure we do the most good for the most people in our community,” she said.
Hawaii reported 403 new Covid cases Friday, with a seven-day daily average of nearly 393, and nine new deaths. Cases have plateaued since the delta variant surged in July and August.
Hawaii currently has about 90,000 doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech according to Char. She said she’s not concerned about running out of shots for everyone but also says people don’t need to rush to get boosters.
“Let’s go through this process calmly,” she said. “We will get enough vaccine for everyone who wants a dose.”
Char said the state’s biggest priority is still to gets shots in the arms of people who are unvaccinated.
More than 67% of the state is fully vaccinated and more than 75% of the population has had at least one dose. But vaccination rates vary greatly.
The neighbor islands have lower vaccination rates than Oahu, and on Oahu vaccination rates have lagged, particularly in West Oahu. People who identify at least partly as Native Hawaiian have relatively low vaccination rates as well.
The state announced Friday that 88% of workers employed in the executive branch are fully vaccinated, with more than 90% at least partially vaccinated.
The Department of Human Resources Development was the only agency with every single employee fully vaccinated as of mid-September. Every other agency had at least an 84% vaccination rate with the exception of the Department of Public Safety at 79.4%.
Char recommended that people who have questions about vaccinations and booster shots should contact their doctors.
Hawaii residents who want booster shots can also find information about vaccination sites on the state’s health department website.
Cindy McMillan, spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige, said Friday she did not know yet whether or not booster shots would be required for state workers who opt to get vaccinated in lieu of mandatory Covid testing.
Brandi Higa, spokeswoman for Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, said as of Friday, booster shots are not necessary to meet city vaccination requirements.
CVS Pharmacy announced Friday that 15 Hawaii locations are offering the shots.
“Per guidance from the CDC, patients will be asked to self-attest to their eligibility as defined by the eligibility guidelines, to help reduce barriers to access for these select populations,” the company said in a press release.
Hawaii’s announcement comes as federal officials and agencies grapple with different opinions on who should be eligible for booster shots, which President Joe Biden wants to make more broadly available.
On Friday, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced after midnight that the CDC would be overruling an advisory panel’s recommendation against providing booster shots for front-line workers, according to the New York Times.
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