HONOLULU (KHON2) — President Joe Biden challenged all states and U.S. territories to expand the vaccine eligibility to all adults by Saturday, May 1, on the one-year mark of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus pandemic.
President Biden said, he wants the country to move on from the virus by the Fourth of July in an address to the nation on Thursday, March 11.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said, Hawaii will not back down from the president’s challenge.
Green said, “The president challenges us, we’re going to meet it.”
Green said, Hawaii is administering about 70,000 doses every week. The state has the capacity to increase the number of shots on arms with more supply, according to Green.
“Well over 400,000 shots given so far, we can give about 300,000 shots now per month,” Green said. “And we need to be giving that many, which means we have to get that much supply in from the feds.”
State health officials are moving ahead in the state’s vaccination plan. Starting Monday, March 5, people 65 years and older will qualify for the shot.
It is news that many kupuna have been waiting for, Green said, that is about 85,000 people right off the bat.
The AARP Hawaii State Director Kealii Lopez said, this will help protect many kupuna from the virus but the sign-up process needs to be easier for seniors.
Lopez said, “What we’re still worried about with people who are 75 plus, even though we’re moving into the younger folks, is that people who don’t have access to the internet or aren’t able to get online.”
Phase 1C also includes essential workers who were not included in 1B plus those who have high-risk medical conditions.
The close-knit community on Lanai, with a population of just 3,000, is ahead of the game with its vaccinations.
The Lanai Community Health Center said 1,000 residents have already gotten their shot. The Health Center expanded the vaccine eligibility to teens who are at least 16 years old.
Molokai General Hospital has vaccinated more than 1,000 people — one-seventh of the island’s population.
Green said, “They went through a lot, especially in Lanai because they had the outbreak there.”
The Department of Health said the Pfizer vaccine has emergency authorization for people 16 years and older while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those who are at least 18 years old.