Q: Should my child receive the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to in-person school in August?
Dr. Irene Papaconstadopoulos, Pediatrician, Child and Adolescent Maui Physicians/CHAMPS Pediatrics: As a pediatrician, I’ve been hearing this question a lot from parents. I have seen first-hand how dangerous COVID-19 can be for people of all ages and I do recommend you consider vaccinating your child if they qualify to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that is now available has been approved by the CDC for children as young as 12 years old. This approval means that after a rigorous research and testing process, studies have found it is safe and effective for kids in this age group.
The vaccine does not contain any actual virus, which means that your child cannot get COVID from the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine has also been found to be more than 90 percent effective against COVID-19, making it one of the most effective vaccines available.
The fact is, while kids are less likely to get sick from COVID-19, it does happen. Getting vaccinated can protect your child, and prevent them from spreading COVID to others who may be more vulnerable to serious complications and even death from contracting COVID-19. And, as additional programs open up, being vaccinated may make it possible for them to participate in more school or extracurricular activities and sports, and even without masks in some cases.
Just like adults, kids will need to get a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine three weeks after the first shot. They may also experience some symptoms after getting the shot, including soreness at the vaccine site, as well as fatigue, body aches, headache, chills, nausea or fever. These symptoms are a sign that the immune system is kicking into gear and the vaccine is working. While they may be uncomfortable, they are temporary and should go away after a day or two.
If you are still unsure, or have questions about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is the right decision for your child, contact your pediatrician. You can find additional information and resources at mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.
Q: I lost my COVID-19 vaccination card. What should I do?
Chrissy Miller, Employee Health Manager, Maui Health: If your COVID-19 vaccination card gets lost or damaged, don’t panic: It is possible to get a replacement.
If you got your vaccine at a Maui Health vaccine clinic, call (808) 242-2273, or email MHfirstname.lastname@example.org to request a replacement. You can pick up your replacement card at Maui Memorial Medical Center with a photo ID. Please note that it may take up to five days to process a new card and will need to be picked up once ready. Walk-in requests will not be accepted.
If you got vaccinated somewhere else, contact the health care provider or clinic location where you got the vaccine. They should be able to look up your record and replace the card within a few days.
If you used the CDC’s VAMS website to sign up for a vaccine, you can also verify your vaccination record online. Simply log in to the VAMS website at vams.cdc.gov using your email and password, and download a certificate of vaccination.
Once you have your COVID-19 vaccination card, the Hawaii Department of Health recommends taking a photo of both sides of the card for your records and storing it in a safe place. Do not share photos of your card online. You can protect it from damage by storing it in a plastic sleeve.
If you plan on traveling, make sure to do your research about what is needed to verify your vaccine status including what needs to be done ahead of time and what you need to present at the airport. We also recommend carrying a copy of your CDC vaccine card or certificate when traveling.
For more information about requesting a replacement vaccine card, visit mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.
* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.