Hawaii health officials issue guidance on Pfizer boosters, but say 1st and 2nd doses remain top priority


Thousands of Hawaii residents who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are now eligible for booster shots, but the state Department of Health is urging that priority be given to those who still have not received their first or second dose of a vaccine.

State health officials also recommend that priority for booster shots be given to people 65 years of age and older and people aged 50 to 64 who have underlying health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to serious illness and hospitalization from COVID-19.

Other segments of the population are also eligible for booster injections, but the health ministry says providers should only consider administering doses to these groups if there is sufficient supply.

“As science and the virus evolve, DOH will continue to make evidence-based decisions to ensure those most at risk for serious illness have access to vaccines,” said the director of health , Dr. Elizabeth Char, in a press release today. “We will have enough reminders for everyone, but please allow those most at risk of serious illness to receive their injections first. Encouraging unvaccinated Hawaii residents to complete their primary vaccine series will remain DOH’s top priority. “

Health officials have said other groups eligible to receive booster shots, based on individual benefits and risks, include:

>> People aged 18 to 49 with underlying health problems.

>> People aged 18 to 64 and at high risk of occupational or institutional exposure, such as healthcare workers and teachers.

While the Department of Health has issued prioritization guidelines, health officials rely on providers and the public to voluntarily adhere to them.

“We hope people will follow him. We’re not going to stand at individual vaccination sites and take a full medical history and force people to prove things, ”Char said at a press conference this afternoon. “But we hope they honor that, because at the end of the day, it’s about protecting our community. This is the best way for us to do it. “

Char advised people to bring their vaccination cards to providers to show that they are past the six-month window for their second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech.

Char said she didn’t have the exact number of people immediately eligible for boosters. She said the state currently has 90,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and is waiting to see what the state’s future allocation will be.

“Please keep in mind that we are going to be one of fifty states looking for additional doses of Pfizer, so we are just waiting to see what that number turns out to be,” she said. .

As of March 24, six months ago, 219,335 Hawaii residents were fully immunized, according to state data. It is not known what percentage of this population received Pfizer-BioNTech or what percentage qualifies for boosters according to federal criteria.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health said it had the capacity to deliver more than 60,000 doses per week through the state’s current vaccination sites.

Booster injections have only been approved for people who have received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Federal agencies are expected to consider an additional dose of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the coming weeks.

The Department of Health has stressed that giving a Pfizer-BioNTech booster to someone who has received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines is not authorized or recommended.

“Individuals are still considered fully vaccinated 14 days after their second dose. The booster doses provide additional protection, but the two-dose primary series continues to protect vaccinated people against serious illness, hospitalization and death, ”according to the Department of Health.

Anyone who has received Pfizer vaccines and not sure if they qualify for a recall should check with their health care provider.

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