5 or older?

  • This photo provided by Pfizer in October shows manufacturing of the company’s COVID-19 bivalent vaccine for ages 5-11. The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave. (Pfizer/via AP)

  • A nurse administers a pediatric dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to a girl at a L.A. Care Health Plan vaccination clinic at Los Angeles Mission College in the Sylmar neighborhood in Los Angeles on Jan. 19. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

The state Department of Health formally recommended Wednesday that everyone 5 or older get COVID-19 bivalent boosters.

The news came shortly after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster for those ages 5 to 11.


The bivalent booster from Moderna also has received emergency use authorization for those ages 6 to 17.

“This is great news for parents who want to protect their young children,” said state Health Director Elizabeth Char. “Bivalent boosters were already available for everyone 12 and older. Now kids ages 5 to 11 can benefit from these new boosters, too.”

Bivalent boosters are the first COVID-19 vaccinations designed specifically to protect against the original strain, as well as the variants most common in Hawaii, including omicron BA.4 and BA.5.

The latest variant report released on Sept. 27 shows BA.5 accounts for 95% of cases in Hawaii County, while BA.4 accounts for the other 5%.

“There are an estimated 118,640 children ages 5 to 11 in Hawaii,” said DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr. “To date, about 51,500, or 40%, have completed their primary series of vaccines. These children are now eligible for the new bivalent boosters.”

So far, the DOH reports that roughly 105,794 bivalent boosters have been administered throughout the state to eligible individuals.

“Last week, DOH pre-ordered 14,000 doses of the Pfizer bivalent booster for children 5 to 11,” Baehr said. “We expect delivery of those booster doses within a few days.”

The Big Island reported 89 new COVID-19 cases this week, down from 109 reported the week prior.

“The statewide average of 145 new COVID-19 cases a day is the lowest daily average case count since March,” Baehr said. “The statewide positivity rate of 5.6% is the lowest we’ve seen since April. We’re doing well, but we are always on guard.”

Baehr also warned that case counts might be higher than reported due to the increased use of at-home tests.

The state reported five new deaths from COVID-19 this week, but no new deaths were reported in Hawaii County.

The new bivalent vaccines are administered as a single shot to those who previously completed a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as those who have had one or two booster doses already.

Bivalent boosters only can be administered at least two months after a person’s most recent vaccination.

People can select a booster by either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna regardless of the vaccine brand they previously received.

Information about where to get a bivalent booster can be found at vaccines.gov or by using the vaccine finder map available at https://hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine/.

Email Grant Phillips at gphillips@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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