The Hawaii Department of Health today said it is already planning for the likely administration of COVID-19 vaccinations to keiki ages 5 to 11 while closely monitoring federal review of the Pfizer vaccine for this age group.
Federal authorities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve the use of the vaccine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must issue recommendations for its clinical use before administration can begin, the department said.
But DOH is already preparing to make Pfizer’s vaccine for keiki ages 5 to 11 available statewide as soon as its use is authorized.
“DOH has been working with public- and private-sector partners to prepare for the likely authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for children 5-11 to ensure equitable distribution across the state,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char in a news release. “While Pfizer reports its vaccine provides robust protection for children 5-11, we await a review of the scientific evidence by federal regulators. The lives of our keiki are precious, and we are encouraged we may soon be able to protect them from COVID-19 through vaccination.”
A comprehensive outreach campaign to parents and guardians of keiki ages 5 to 11 encouraging the COVID-19 vaccinations is also planned.
Hawaii has an estimated 119,473 children between ages 5 to 11, or roughly 8.4% of the state’s population, according to DOH.
The approval is still more than a week away, according to DOH, as an FDA advisory committee is scheduled to meet Oct. 26 to discuss authorization of the vaccine, and a CDC advisory committee is scheduled to meet Nov. 2 to 3 to discuss clinical recommendations.
DOH said it is working with providers to offer vaccinations at a wide range of locations — from schools to pop-up clinics, community health centers, hospitals, pharmacies and a limited number of pediatricians’ offices.
DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said the vaccines will be available to pediatricians, but they must must register to administer, and be willing to administer, the vaccines following required procedures. So far, fewer than two dozen have expressed interest.
The federal government is expected to distribute the first waves of vaccine directly to states, said DOH, which has pre-ordered 41,700 doses — the full allotment for Hawaii — which would cover about 35% of Hawaii’s 5-11-year-old population.
The Pfizer dose being considered for children ages 5 to 11 is one-third of the adult dose, and administered with a smaller needle. Parents and guardians of this age group will need to fill out a written or electronic consent form before the vaccine can be administered.
DOH said upon authorization, it will list sites offering keiki vaccinations at HawaiiCOVID19.com/vaccine.