Kalihi Uka Elementary hosted the first Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) school-based vaccination clinic for 5- to 11-year-olds Monday, providing shots for several dozen students in partnership with Safeway Pharmacy.
“We’re grateful and excited to be the first public school to hold a vaccination clinic for younger students. This adds another layer of protection for our school and broader community, where a lot of our students come from multi-generational homes,” Derek Santos, principal of Kalihi Uka Elementary, said.
Under the HIDOE and Hawaii Department of Health’s guidance for schools, students and staff who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19 and have no symptoms.
“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. But quarantine requirements for close contacts have kept some of our students away from school,” Santos said. “This effort supports in-person learning by helping keep our students protected and in school.”
Elizabeth Lugo signed up her daughter to be vaccinated at school Monday. “For me personally, it’s a layer of added protection for me and my family,” Lugo said. “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.”
“If I get the vaccination, I will be more safe and when I get sick, I will still be protected from the virus,” said Lugo’s 8-year-old daughter, Milena, who is a third-grader at Kalihi Uka.
Although highly encouraged, COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandatory for students to attend school.
In partnership with the Department of Health and health service providers, the HIDOE has hosted more than 150 DOE school-based clinics statewide since May, when vaccines were approved for adolescents.
More than 100 HIDOE schools are registered to host vaccination clinics for 5- to 11-year-olds in the coming weeks. There are approximately 83,000 students enrolled in public schools who are in the 5-to-11 age range as of the start of the 2021-22 school year.
As with school-based clinics for older students, many of the school sites for 5- to 11-year-olds will be designed and operated as "closed" sites that accommodate only their enrolled students. This is to ensure safety when clinics are run during school hours.
Schools will let their families know about these opportunities directly. A list of school sites is not being published. Vaccinations are also being administered at medical facilities, pharmacies, community health centers and pediatrician’s offices. Other locations for 5-11 vaccinations are listed at hawaiicovid19.com.
Parents are urged to talk to their doctors, pediatricians and pharmacists about the vaccine.