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Hawaiʻi begins vaccinating children under age 5 against COVID

keiki covid vaccine hawaii pacific health pfizer children vaccine
Hawaiʻi Pacific Health
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Hawaiʻi Pacific Health
Ryan Nakagawa's two children receive COVID-19 vaccinations at Kapi‘olani Medical Center on June 25, 2022.

Hawaiʻi is just coming off the first weekend of vaccinating children under age 5 against COVID-19.

Dr. Douglas Kwock, vice president of medical affairs at Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, says no one knew what kind of response they were going to see.

"It was hard for us to judge the demand. But actually, we ended up filling up all of our appointment slots. In total, we gave nearly 800 vaccines over the weekend combined on Oʻahu and Kauaʻi. And of that, just over 80% of them were first doses for 6 months to 4-year age group," Kwock said.

Keiki under age 5 received their first doses of the three-dose Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Kwock says officials were pleased with the response, and urges families to make reservations to vaccinate their young children. Hawaiʻi Pacific Health has scheduled additional clinics this coming month.

"The truth is our children can get sick from COVID and we do see children getting hospitalized for COVID," he told HPR. "Also, we know that our children are interacting a lot with our kūpuna because a lot of our kūpuna here in Hawaiʻi are caring for our children. And we want to be able to make sure that our children are protected so that they don't have the potential to spread infection to our elderly population as well."

He assured the public that MMR vaccines will not affect your DNA. That is still some of the incorrect information floating out there, he says.

Kaiser Permanente began offering both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this week at their facilities and has scheduled community vaccine events. The Queen's Health Systems also launched a schedule for shot clinics.

More than 80,000 children in Hawaiʻi under the age of 5 are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. More information on keiki vaccine availability can be found at hawaiicovid19.com.

This interview aired on The Conversation on June 28, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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