Cases Decline, State Readies for Child Vaccines
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Molokai COVID cases continue to slow as the island logged two new COVID cases on Oct. 18, marking the only positive tests in the past week. According to the Dept. of Health, nearly 73 percent of Molokai’s population has initiated COVID-19 vaccinations – or 4,566 residents – and just over 68 percent, or 4,315 residents, are fully vaccinated, as of last week.
Statewide, the daily average of new cases has dropped to 124 over the last week, according to the Dept. of Health. As the state reached 70 percent vaccinated two weeks ago – the benchmark at which Gov. Ige previously said travel restrictions into the state would be dropped – visitors and returning residents must still present proof of vaccination or negative test results to enter the state or be subject to a 10-day quarantine period after arrival.
The DOH is moving forward with administration of vaccine booster doses following CDC guidelines.
For Moderna vaccine recipients, a single booster dose at least six months after the second dose is recommended for those 65 and older, and those over age 18 who live in long-term care settings, have underlying medical conditions or who work or live in high-risk settings. Moderna booster doses are half of an initial dose.
A single booster dose is also recommended for all Johnson & Johnson recipients at least two months after the first dose. Johnson & Johnson recipients can also elect to receive a single booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
Mixing and matching of all U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccines is now allowed by the CDC. The DOH says first and second doses will continue to be prioritized over any booster doses in Hawaii.
The DOH said last week it is currently planning for the likely administration of COVID-19 vaccinations to children ages 5 to 11 based on federal review of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has to authorize use of the vaccine and the CDC must issue recommendations for clinical use of the vaccine before it’s administered.
“DOH has been working with public- and private-sector partners to prepare for the likely authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children 5 to 11 to ensure equitable distribution across the state,” said Director of Health Dr. Elizabeth Char. “While Pfizer reports its vaccine provides robust protection for children 5 to 11, we await a review of the scientific evidence by federal regulators. The lives of our keiki are precious, and we are encouraged we may soon be able to protect them from COVID-19 through vaccination.”
DOH has pre-ordered the full allotment of 41,700 allocated for Hawaii from the federal government. This first allocation will cover 35 percent of the state’s 5 to 11-year-old population. Doses will then be distributed to each island based on 5 to 11-year-old population estimates, the DOH said. The Pfizer dose being considered for children 5 to 11-year-old is one-third of the adult dose and is expected to be administered with a smaller needle.
Parents and guardians of 5 to 11-year-olds will need to fill out a written or electronic consent form before a vaccine can be administered, according to the DOH. While some parents say they welcome the chance to protect their children from COVID, others are sharing grave concerns about the vaccine for their kids and whether it will become mandated for that age group in the future.