Hawaii authorizes booster doses for J&J, Moderna vaccines

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 4:49 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 21, 2021 at 10:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii has authorized the distribution of booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the state Health Department said Thursday.

The announcement came after the CDC approved the boosters for eligible populations.

The agency also allowed the flexibility of “mixing and matching” the extra dose regardless of which type people received first. Pfizer vaccine booster shots had previously been approved.

“Boosters doses are common for many vaccines and will provide additional protection to Hawaii residents at higher risk for severe illness or occupational exposure,” said state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, in a news release.

“Boosters are expected to be widely available across the state, and CDC’s mix-and-match policy will allow for additional flexibility. DOH’s first priority will remain encouraging unvaccinated Hawaii residents to complete their initial vaccine series.”

For those who received a Moderna vaccine, a single booster dose is recommended for certain populations at least six months after the second dose.

Those recommended for the booster are:

  • Individuals 65 and older
  • Individuals 18 and up who live in long-term care settings or have underlying medical conditions.
  • Individuals 18 and up who work or live in high-risk settings.

Moderna booster doses are half of an initial dose.

For those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a single booster dose is recommended at least two months after the first dose.

Johnson & Johnson recipients can also elect to get a single booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Only about 65,000 third doses have been administered in the state so far, which is a small number of people eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, according to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“There are a lot more people eligible for the booster shots than there are getting them right now,” said Hilton Raethel, the president and CEO of the association.

With that potential demand, along with expectations that Pfizer will soon be available for kids, health care facilities are gearing up.

“Over the last week or so we’ve been seeing a bit of a slowdown,” said Elena Cabatu, director of marketing for Hilo Medical Center.

“But we anticipate that to pick up with the upcoming discussion for eligibility of 5- to 11-year-olds, and we look forward to vaccinating as many of those children as we can.”

No one knows if the third shot will be the last because there has not been enough time to complete trials. “We would still encourage people to get a booster shot,” Raethel said. “You’ll still have protection if you’ve been vaccinated, it’s just you get enhanced protection if you do get the booster shot.”

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