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Elementary age kids in Hawaii weeks away from being eligible for vaccine

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 2:56 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 5:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Parents of elementary school age children will soon have the option to have their keiki vaccinated against COVID.

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 are just weeks away from being eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

In Hawaii, 119,000 keiki fall into that age group.

“The testing has been done,” said pediatrician Dr. Nadine Salle. “It’s been vetted on a large scale and through pediatric experts.”

Officials say the pediatric shot is one-third the dose given to adults and adolescents. The vaccine will also be administered with a smaller needle.

“What we’re waiting for is just the final approval from the feds,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii added, “This particular vaccine can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 weeks.”

That means for the first time the state can team up with doctor’s offices to distribute the shot.

“Now, suddenly, parents are getting it from somebody they trust,” said Salle.

The pediatrician says her practice will be among those administering the vaccine.

Health officials hope having families go to doctors for the shots will allow for questions and reduce anxiety.

“I would say at least half of my patients at that age are probably going to get it and be comfortable getting it,” said Salle. “But there is a significant (number of) others, they need to decide. They need to work through the misinformation, the things that they’re hearing and their own concerns.”

In addition to doctor’s offices, officials say the shot will be available at a variety of other places.

“Children’s hospitals, pharmacies, community based clinics, community health centers and rural health centers,” Raethel said.

Nationwide, there have been at least 6 million confirmed cases of COVID in kids.

While children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID, the Centers for Disease Control says 637 people under the age of 18 have died after contracting the illness.

In addition to curbing the number of infections, officials say the vaccine will also reduce the spread via children to vulnerable adults.

“Any of the side effects have been very minimal,” Green said.

It can include a sore arm and fever. Some children might also experience flu-like symptoms.

Doctors say there’s also a chance keiki can develop a serious but treatable condition that causes inflammation around the heart.

“We did see myocarditis in the older adolescents ― particularly boys more than girls,” Salle said. “We’re not seeing it so much in the 5 to 11. It’s still considered a very rare side effect.”

The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses administered three weeks apart.

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