Oahu appointments go unfilled as state opens vaccine eligibility

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Several thousand residents age 16 and older jumped on the opportunity to get vaccinated during the essential worker phase.

“It’s been a long journey for everyone, it’s been about a year, so I really hope everyone is getting their shots as soon as they can so we can all see each other again and get back to normal life as soon as possible,” said Paul Galvez, an Oahu resort employee.

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Most people under 50 said they wanted to return to work safely, while others wanted to make sure their kupuna at home wouldn’t get sick.

“When I heard about getting an appointment, I did it right away to be safe and took the extra step,” said restaurant worker Christopher Lee.

The state has now opened availability to all ages 16 and older, and while appointments filled up quickly through Wednesday on Oahu, many appointments were available for the rest of the week.

“We’ve still got appointments that we can fill, we have capacity to do, you know, we’ve been doing about 2,000 to 2500 a day,” explained Hawaii Pacific Health Dr. Douglas Kwock.

Queen’s Health Systems vaccine clinic at the Blaisdell also has many appointments available this week, along with several Longs Drugs pharmacies.

“We absolutely anticipate that it will get tougher to keep filling up all these slots, as we get through the end of April and May,” explained Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO Hilton Raethel.

Health officials said between 30- to 40% of the state has received at least one vaccine dose, and one million doses have gone into arms so far.

“We still have quite a way to go to get to that all-important herd immunity,” he continued.

Neighbor islands said they’re already seeing demand drop.

Hilo Medical Center will host a mass vaccination event at Edith Kanakaole Stadium on Saturday and has about 1,000 appointments still available.

“We know that there’s only about 21% of our Hawaii County population fully vaccinated, so we know we have a ways to go,” said Hilo Medical Center Marketing Director Elena Cabatu.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green was helping with vaccinations in Hilo on Monday.

“The demand has started to slow on the neighbor islands, so we’re reaching out more, and I wanted to be a part of that and see that they’re doing,” said Green.

He said he was a little surprised to hear many vaccine appointments were still available towards the end of the week on Oahu.

“Today’s the first day. I would expect a lot of these appointments to fill up. We will have to reach out, and that’s what we learned here on Big Island: that it’s outreach,” said Green. “We’re now into the next phase where people are a little bit on the fence, and so as we get those folks encouraged that it’s safe and easy, we expect a lot more vaccinations to go on.”

“We’re all in this together,” Green continued. “If people get their vaccinations, we’ll be able to get rid of masks sooner, we’ll be able to be safer sooner and all the restrictions will go away.”

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