County preps for keiki vaccinations

LIHU‘E — Approval for the first COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 is getting closer, and the county is preparing.

Vaccinations for kids in this age group, County Managing Director Michael Dahilig said, is expected to be available on Kaua‘i next week.

”We are not planning in-school vaccinations on Kaua‘i as vaccines will be widely available at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies,” Dahilig said Monday during the county’s weekly COVID-19 briefing. “These folks are working to offer vaccine clinics at days and times that are convenient for working parents with school-aged children. Information will be updated as we get details.”

A special advisory panel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consider recommendations on Tuesday for administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to younger children, which the Food and Drug Administration has already approved.

Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said that COVID-19 is usually milder in children, but some children have reportedly gotten “very sick, requiring hospitalization, and some experience long-term health effects.”

“Vaccines reduce your keiki’s chances of getting sick if they’re exposed,” Berreman said. “They also reduce the chances that your keiki and your family will have to isolate or quarantine.”

About 2% of children who have gotten COVID-19 in Hawai‘i have been hospitalized. There were about 4,500 pediatric COVID-19 cases in the state in August 2021.

Kaua‘i County currently has the highest case rate per capita in the state, as well as the highest test positivity rate, Dahilig reported Monday.

The Kaua‘i District Health Office reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, which were all residents, including three children and nine adults.

One of the cases is related to mainland travel. The remaining 11 cases are considered community-acquired. Eight of the community-acquired infections are close contacts of a previously announced case or are tied to an active cluster. The remaining three cases have no known source of infection.

Officials are currently tracking three active clusters, two of which are the result of social gatherings and the other being a construction setting.

Monday’s new cases bring the number of active cases to 102, with five hospitalized. To date, the county has recorded 2,734 cumulative cases.

Testing sites this week

Free testing is available at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihu‘e on weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. If there is a wait, you will receive a ticket with a time to return for your test. Arrive anytime the clinic is open to receive a timed ticket; no need to arrive early.

Additionally, a free mobile testing van is available for walk-ins from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center on Wednesdays, Kilauea Neighborhood Center on Thursdays, Kalaheo Neighborhood Center on Fridays, Hanalei Neighborhood Center on Saturdays, and the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a on Sundays. Testing performed at the Convention Hall and through the mobile testing van is rapid PCR. Same-day results are sent via email.

Free drive-thru testing is also available daily at Lihu‘e Pharmacy Group, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments are highly recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. For an appointment, register online at PreventCOVIDHI.com or call (808) 635-4968.

Testing is also available through your primary care physician, a hospital, or an urgent care clinic. Please contact those providers directly for more information. For more details, visit https://www.kauai.gov/covidtest.

Vaccination sites this week

A free mobile vaccination van will be open from noon to 3 p.m. at the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center this Thursday, the Koloa Neighborhood Center on Friday, and the Hanalei Neighborhood Center on Saturday, offering vaccines to anybody 12 and older. Walk-ins accepted.

On Saturday, Nov. 6, Ho‘ola Lahui will be at Kanuikapono Public Charter School in Anahola and at Kaumakani Community Hall from 9 to 11 a.m. at both locations.

This story was updated at 7:21 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2021 to clarify that children have been known to have milder symptoms.

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