Lt. Gov. Green: We’ve given more vaccines than we’ve had cases

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Mass vaccination sites are up and running and the latest announcement from the federal government means more vaccine is coming. So when will Hawaii reach herd immunity?

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Lt. Gov. Josh Green told KHON2, Hawaii is one of only two states that has administered more COVID-19 vaccines than confirmed cases of the virus.

The Health Department says, about half of the residents in a recent survey responded that they will take a COVID-19 vaccination. About 25% were still deciding and reaching herd immunity would require about 70% of people to be vaccinated. Green says, it depends on how much vaccine Hawaii is able to get and whether or not other companies like Johnson & Johnson get approved.

“At the current rate, it’s going to be toward the end of the Summer, and maybe early Fall. At an accelerated rate, it could be as early as July 4th,” said Green.

He also told KHON2 the latest number of shots given is more than 120,000. Hawaii has received about 203,000 doses with the State’s recent delivery included. Officials explain why there may be more side effects — like fevers, chills, and body aches — as folks get their second shots.

“The first shot is really priming your immune system,” said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. “And so then three weeks later, if it’s Pfizer, or four weeks later, if it’s Moderna – now your your immune systems are primed – and wow! We see this bad protein and we’re going to go ahead and attack it quickly. And so that’s why you’re going to see maybe a little bit more fever, more the body aches.”

KHON2 has been told the majority of the side effects were gone within three days during clinical trials and if ibuprofen or Tylenol was taken. Health officials say, it is important to continue to wear a mask and avoid large crowds even after getting vaccinated.

“We are still waiting on the research to find out whether these vaccines achieved what’s called ‘sterilization immunity’. What that means is you’ve been vaccinated, but you can’t carry the virus in your nose or your throat,” said Green.

“You don’t know how long it’s {vaccine} going to last. And we definitely don’t have enough people vaccinated to feel comfortable that we have herd immunity,” said Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum.

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