HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is preparing to open COVID-19 vaccinations to those 70 and older.

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Hawaii Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char made the announcement Friday, Feb. 19.

“We’re still in Phase 1b, and we’re not ready to go into Phase 1c yet. But soon, we’d like to welcome those 70 and older to get vaccinated,” Char said in a news release. “We know we still have kupuna and frontline essential workers waiting to be vaccinated. We’ve been vaccinating kupuna since about mid-January, and so we’d like to add in 70 and older to keep the uptake of vaccine really brisk.”

Currently, those 75 and older are eligible to get vaccinated. Hawaii is among six states behind lowering the age group compared to the rest of the nation.

That’s according to data published Wednesday, Feb. 17, by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonprofit focused on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy.

The data showed that people over 65 are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in most states. Meanwhile, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico and Massachusetts have an age limit of over 75. There are also nine states that have an age limit of over 70: Nevada, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.

The Hawaii Department of Health will announce when COVID-19 vaccination sites are prepared to accept registration for the new 70-and-older group.

However, vaccine availability continues to be impacted by weather-related delays on the mainland.

“Because the Moderna shipments were delayed, all our vaccination centers have been burning through the supplies they have, so they’ve been emptying out their refrigerators too, because we didn’t get new supplies this week,” explained Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO. “I just got an email from one of our facilities and they are desperately looking for 500 doses to get them through Monday. The problem is that everyone is in the same boat, which is they’re all short of doses.” 

The state health department said it expects to receive the full order of 27,700 backlogged Moderna vaccines Monday, Tuesday, and possibly Wednesday. 

The state anticipates receiving more than 50,000 doses for the week of Feb. 22. 

Almost all hospitals use the Pfizer vaccine, however Queen’s Health Systems does use the Moderna vaccine at its Blaisdell clinic which rescheduled Thursday and Friday appointments for Saturday. 

Places like CVS and Longs Drugs did not receive their Moderna shipment this week. 

Longs told KHON2 it will not result in canceled appointments since it only schedules appointments based on available supply. 

Health officials said there weren’t many first doses given this week due to the delay and people waiting on their first dose could be rescheduled. 

“With both vaccines, we are prioritizing a second shot, and if we do have to reschedule, we’d much prefer to reschedule a first shot than a second shot,” Raethel explained. 

“It will mean that some of the vaccination sites will actually be extra busy for a few days, because that playing catch up for the ones they couldn’t do this week,” he continued. 

Maui and Kauai were not impacted by the delayed shipment. 

Maui Health System said they’re focusing on first dose reschedules from last month and will open a vaccination clinic in Kihei next week. 

“We’ll begin for the first time offering a second site in Kihei,” explained Mike Rembis, Maui Health Systems CEO. “Again, we’re going to be reaching out to those people whose first dose had to be cancelled because of lack of supply and getting them done first.” 

Health officials said they’ll work hard to get back on track as quickly as possible.