New COVID-19 vaccines are here. Hawai‘i health officials want you to get the jab
Hawai‘i Department of Health officials are urging residents to get the jab once again, as new COVID-19 vaccines approved and authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are rolled out across the state.
The new 2023-2024 COVID-19 vaccines replace the previously approved and authorized bivalent mRNA vaccines. The new vaccines address the XBB-lineages of the Omicron variant that accounts for 99% of COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i.
“These [new vaccines] were designed to target the more recently circulating Omicron strains,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, state epidemiologist and Disease Outbreak Control Division chief. “The general makeup of the vaccine is not different.”
The new COVID-19 vaccines are to be administered as a single dose.
“When we look at our statistics in Hawai‘i, only about 20% of our population got the updated bivalent booster after it came out last fall,” Kemble said. “That leaves about 80% of our population that hasn’t had a recent COVID-19 booster.
“So I think this is really an opportune time to get a new shot that is targeted to current circulating variants to really maximize your protection.”
Unlike previous COVID-19 vaccines, the new vaccines are not being exclusively distributed by
the U.S. government to vaccination providers. The new vaccines are available through traditional pathways for purchase, distribution, and payment, including health
Initial public and private sector orders of the new COVID-19 vaccines have begun
shipping and are expected to arrive in pharmacies and provider offices this week.
Kemble thinks COVID-19 vaccines may become seasonal, like flu shots.
“It remains to be seen … But that is a pattern we see ourselves starting to head into,” Kemble said. “It’s really more of a concept of, are you up to date on the latest COVID-19 shot, rather than whether you’ve had a primary series or booster.”