Some islands have open appointments despite vaccine eligibility increasing


HONOLULU (KHON2) — To date, Hawaii has put about 900,000 shots in arms, and about 320,000 Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated.

“As of the April 19, we will have delivered 1 million shots, and we’ll have one million to go,” said Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green.

He encouraged Oahu residents 50 and older who are interested in the vaccine to sign up before eligibility expands to 16 and older on April 19.

“There will be a lot of demand, there will be a big surge of demand for the first four weeks after opening it up, that’s what the patterns been so better to get on that schedule if you’re 50 or 60 and older,” he continued.

Lt. Governor Green then anticipates to see a slow down around June 1.

“I think that next million people will be a little harder to find and we’ll have to go door to door and in some ways community to community come June,” he said.

Green said the first eligible vaccine group was ‘super eager’ to get vaccinated, and the next group 50 and older will be ‘modestly interested.’

He said the most resistant will be the final group 16 and older.

Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said he’s noticing it already on the Valley Isle.

On Friday, Pang encouraged Maui residents to get the vaccine after seeing about 400 open appointments on Day 2 of opening to 16 and older.

“Already, we’re seeing what they call ‘vaccine hesitancy,’” he said, adding that it’s crucial to get vaccinated as variants continue to spread rapidly.

“If we can get 70% then it’s like the epidemic dies out, it’s like no fuel for the fire, it spreads but it hits immune people and peters out,” he explained.

He said there will be a gap between the time 16 and younger can get vaccinated which could be this summer and it’s a race to get shots in arms before more variants enter the state.

“There’s this gap in the next few months where we can’t possibly get near 70% and I’m asking for 85% or higher because of the variants; the variants are knocking on the door, if you don’t believe me read about the Brazilian one the most aggressive one of them all in British Columbia right now,” he warned.

To date, about 20% of Hawaii and Oahu residents have received two doses of the vaccine. Kauai leads the way with 30% of residents with two doses, and Maui is at 18%.

On Sunday Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said demand on Kauai was still strong, but there were available appointments at clinics this upcoming week including spots in Monday’s Johnson & Johnson clinic.

Lt. Governor Green said he hopes to have 75% of the state vaccinated by July 4, along with the rest of the nation, but said that most of the world won’t be vaccinated by then which means more mutations will develop.

According to Johns Hopkins website, Hawaii ranks 13 when it comes to percentage of population fully vaccinated.

Lt. Gov. Green said he expects to see a boost in vaccine interest once the Safe Travels vaccine card is approved to allow for inter-island travelers to bypass a pre-test and quarantine.

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