Kalihi Uka Elementary today hosted the state’s first public school-based COVID-19 vaccination clinic for 5-to-11-year-olds in partnership with Safeway Pharmacy, according to the Hawaii Department of Education.
Several dozen students at the elementary school received their first round of Pfizer vaccine shots today. Kalihi Uka is one of more than 100 public schools registered to host clinics in upcoming weeks.
“We’re grateful and excited to be the first public school to hold a vaccination clinic for younger students,” said Derek Santos, principal of Kalihi Uka Elementary, in a news release. “This adds another layer of protection for our school and broader community, where a lot of our students come from multi-generational homes.”
Elizabeth Lugo signed up her daughter, Milena, for the school vaccination clinic on Monday.
“For me personally, it’s a layer of added protection for me and my family,” Lugo said in the news release. “At first we were a little hesitant but after having a talk with our pediatrician, she highly recommended it. I have been waiting for the chance to get my daughter vaccinated ever since.”
Milena, a third-grader, added: “If I get the vaccination, I will be more safe and when I get sick, I will still be protected from the virus.”
DOE has in partnership with the state Department of Health and various service providers hosted more than 150 school-based clinics for older children, ages 12 and up, who have been eligible for COVID-19 vaccines since May.
DOE estimates there are about 83,000 students ages 5 to 11 enrolled in public schools as of the start of this school year.
The school-based clinics will mostly be operated as “closed” sites for enrolled students only to ensure safety during school hours. Parents and guardians will need to fill out a written or electronic consent form before a vaccine can be administered. Schools will let families know directly about upcoming COVID-19 vaccination clinics.
Although highly encouraged, DOE said COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandatory for students to attend school.
“We’ve been fortunate that through the hard work of everyone at our school, including our families, our school case counts have been very low,” said Santos. “But quarantine requirements for close contacts have kept some of our students away from school. This effort supports in-person learning by helping keep our students protected and in school.”