Moderna, J&J boosters get green light

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Julie McDonald of Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i explains the difference between the Moderna dose and the booster Saturday during the vaccine clinic at Isenberg Park in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Michelle Ayau of Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i administers the Moderna booster shot to Julie McDonald Saturday during the vaccine clinic at Isenberg Park in Lihu‘e.

LIHU‘E — Julie McDonald of Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i said she was going to get her Moderna booster at the close of the vaccine clinic Saturday at Isenberg Park.

“We just got the approval for the Moderna and Johnson &Johnson vaccines,” McDonald said. “We had to learn about the new boosters before getting here. Previously, we only had the Pfizer booster that was approved.”

The state Department of Health will adopt the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on COVID-19 booster doses for Moderna and Johnson &Johnson vaccines, said a Thursday DOH press release.

“Booster doses are common for many vaccines, and will provide additional protection to Hawai‘i residents at higher risk for severe illness or occupational exposure,” said DOH Director Dr. Elizabeth Char.

“Boosters are expected to be widely available across the state, and CDC’s mix-and-match policy will allow for additional flexibility. The DOH’s first priority will remain encouraging unvaccinated Hawai‘i residents to complete their initial vaccine series.”

The clinic staffed by Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i had all three booster shots available alongside the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson &Johnson initial and second vaccines.

“We administered three of the new booster shots,” McDonald said. “But we also did a lot of first and second doses. There are a lot of people out there who have yet to be vaccinated. Our priority is to get those people vaccinated,” she said.

For recipients of the Moderna vaccine, a single booster dose is recommended for certain populations at least six months following the second dose. The Moderna booster doses are half of the initial dose.

These include individuals 65 years and older, individuals age 18 years and older who live in long-term-care settings, individuals age 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions and individuals age 18 and older who work or live in high-risk settings.

For Johnson &Johnson vaccine recipients, a single booster dose is recommended for all at least two months following the first dose. Johnson &Johnson recipients can also elect to receive a single booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

The DOH release said mixing and matching of all U.S.-approved COVID-19 vaccines is allowed. Interchangeability of shots will provide additional flexibility. All vaccines are effective in reducing the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, even against the delta variant, the DOH stated in the release.

First and second doses will continue to be prioritized over any booster doses. The best way to protect Hawai‘i families and communities is to ensure that unvaccinated Hawai‘i residents complete their initial vaccine series, the DOH said.

Individuals unsure if they qualify for a booster should check with their health-care providers.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated 14 days following their primary vaccine series. Booster doses provide additional protection, but the primary series continues to protect vaccinated individuals against severe illness, hospitalization and death.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. YuCalJoe October 24, 2021 5:16 am Reply

    As always, consult your doctor that the vaccine is safe for you. If it is, go ahead and get it. And get your flu vaccine starting in November (recommended start date by my doctor). Keep wearing a mask if you’ve been wearing one. New strains, like the one discovered in the U.K., will keep coming. Stay safe!

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