Gov. David Ige is urging parents to initially look to their children’s pediatricians once COVID-19 vaccinations are approved as expected this month for children ages 5 to 11.
Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” livestream program Monday that state officials are notifying pediatricians to be prepared to represent the initial wave of vaccinations. A decision on Pfizer’s request for federal regulator emergency authorization of its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 is expected Oct. 26, Ige said.
At the same time, Ige said his administration is working on plans to create mass school vaccination sites that are complicated because of several factors: limits on “ultracold” storage facilities to store the Pfizer vaccine and prevent doses from spoiling; parental permission; and the likely desire by some parents to need time off to accompany their children — especially younger ones — to vaccination sites.
“We’re working really hard with the pediatricians all across the state to make sure that they are prepared, that they can answer the questions that many parents will have,” Ige said. “And so we’re working to get as many pediatricians to be able to offer vaccinations in their offices. That’s the primary focus.
“We continue to plan vaccination clinics in schools because we do know that that’s the next phase that would allow us to reach more people,” he said. “It just gets to be a lot more complicated to have events at every single school, for example.”
Officials are considering how many potential vaccinations make sense for each site and other factors. “Working through the pediatricians and then looking at how to organize school vaccine clinics would probably be the major, major emphasis,” he said.
Hawaii still has 430,000 residents who are not fully vaccinated, including 207,000 children, Ige said. People who are eligible for the vaccine but have refused to get vaccinated make up less than 9% of the state’s population.
Personally — and for everyone else — Ige said holiday plans starting with Halloween should probably focus on outdoor activities, which includes ensuring that everyone taking part is fully vaccinated, especially when eating and drinking are involved.
Having discussions about whether guests are vaccinated, “I do think that will be part of this next holiday season,” Ige said. Overall, Ige said he hopes this year’s season “won’t be as restricted as last year, for sure.”