HONOLULU (KHON2) — Residents in west and central Oahu will have more options to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Queen’s Health Systems opened a mass vaccination site at their West Oahu location on Wednesday, March 24, and Kaiser Permanente will start a vaccine clinic inside a Kapolei movie theater.   

People will soon be lining up at Kapolei’s Consolidated Theatres, not for movie tickets but for a COVID-19 shot.

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It will not be the usual smell of popcorn but more of a sterile clinic with Kaiser medical staff throughout. Kaiser’s assistant hospital administrator Andrew Giles said, the movie theater checked all the boxes to be turned into a mass vaccination site.

“Some of the limitations that we’ve seen in our other clinics to date has been parking, just a large open floor plan,” Giles said. “This is such a great location that has so many parking stalls, a great layout and we can even use the movie theater seats as the observation area once they finish their vaccine.”

It has been a slow time for movie theaters during the pandemic. The Consolidated Theatres division manager Rod Tengan said, the location in Kapolei has not reopened since they closed down in March, 2020. He said, the movie industry continues to suffer as a result of the virus.

“Even if we have opened a few locations, business is nowhere at the level it was prior to the pandemic,” Tengan said. “This is just an opportunity for us to get the community in a healthier place, and get everybody feeling safer.”

He hopes the next time they open their theater doors will be for a new feature.

Kaiser plans to vaccinate 2,000 people every day for the next three months.

Giles said, “This is a big stepping stone and expecting allocation to increase in April, and if we really want to get to herd immunity by the summer, these types of venues are very important to the success of the state.” 

The Queen’s Health Systems began inoculating residents in its second mass vaccination site on Wednesday. This new location is also aiming to make the shot available to residents in the western parts of the island.

The Department of Health (DOH) put more than 60,000 shots into arms during the week of Monday, March 15. DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr said, they are moving quickly through Phase 1C of the vaccination program but certain essential workers within that group will have to continue to wait.

Baehr said, “We’re not quite ready yet to say, ‘Open it up to the rest of 1C, you know, construction workers, baking and finance come on down,’ but they’re getting that much closer.”

The rollout of Phase 1C caused confusion among eligible individuals. The DOH first announced all people included in this phase could sign up for the vaccine, but later asked workers in industries outside of tourism and hospitality to wait as there are not enough doses for everyone.

General Contractors Association of Hawaii executive director Cheryl Walthall said, they are willing to wait a little longer for the shot but it was disappointing to know they still had to wait, even if they are part of Phase 1C.

“We had already informed all of our 500 members that they could go ahead and scheduling their appointments,” Walthall said. “So there was a lot of confusion and of course some disappointment that we were being put back on the waiting list.”

The DOH said they will be able to expand eligibility to all adults by Saturday, May 1, as the vaccine dose allocation is expected to increase.