As Hawaii is expecting nearly 38,000 doses of the new bivalent Covid-19 booster shot, residents have begun scheduling their appointments to get one at vaccination providers.

The bivalent booster, which is being produced by both Pfizer and Moderna, targets the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the highly contagious omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, which make up nearly 90% of cases in the U.S. In Hawaii, BA.5 accounts for 91% of Covid cases and BA.4 accounts for 4%, according to the state Department of Health.

The DOH has preordered 27,300 doses of the Pfizer booster shot and 10,500 of Moderna’s version that have begun “trickling into the state,” with deliveries expected to be completed next week, health department spokesman Brooks Baehr said.

Windward resident George Nardin receives his booster shot from Suzy Shimabukuro, RN under a tent in the back of the Windward YMCA. August 24, 2021.
Hawaii residents can now schedule an appointment for the bivalent booster. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

“Beyond that, we can order every week going forward,” Baehr said in an interview. “We want to make sure that we have a robust supply. When we see a need to bring more in, we will certainly be bringing more in on a weekly basis.”

Separate from the health department, pharmacies and community health centers also have placed orders for the new booster shots.

People can schedule their appointments on the state’s Covid-19 website, which maps out pharmacies that offer the booster.

DOH spokeswoman Katie Arita-Chang said she’s already scheduled to receive the bivalent booster Saturday at CVS Pharmacy in Pearl City.

“I went on the website and was able to sign up,” she said. “They ask you a few questions about when your last dose was and if you had any previous allergies, but it was really easy.”

The CDC’s advisory committee on Thursday recommended that the Pfizer booster could be administered to people at least 12 years old and Moderna to those who are 18 and older. The FDA approved the new booster on Wednesday.

The bivalent booster will only be given to people who have been fully vaccinated. Previously people could get up to two additional shots from the original formulas. The new booster shot replaces those for ages 12 and older.

While the FDA rescinded authorization for the original booster for that age group, the DOH and CDC still recommend Pfizer’s original booster for children ages 5 to 11.

On Wednesday, Hawaii reported a seven-day Covid positivity rate of 7.3% – a decline for the sixth consecutive week. Just over 77% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, 44.8% received the first vaccine dose and 11.6% received the first booster shot.

The state also reported 12 new deaths over the past week, raising the total to 1,644. About 90% of Covid-related deaths were among people 50 years and older, according to the department.

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