State forced to ramp up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A White House order puts pressure on Hawaii to join other states to have all adults eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1.

It’s raising questions about whether Hawaii will get enough vaccines to do that, and what happens if the state fails to meet that deadline?

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It’s not clear if the federal government plans to punish states who don’t meet the goal but health officials here express confidence that they will meet the deadline.

“So the director of health and I have, you know, chatted about that, and we will make that deadline,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

The White House announcement shows 14 state have already opened up eligibility and 12 more will do so by April 15. Hawaii is among the states expected to reach the deadline by May 1.

Congressman Ed Case points out that it doesn’t mean Hawaii will be able to give the vaccine by then, but should at least allow all adults to sign up for an appointment.

“By May 1 you should be able to sign up for a vaccine and schedule that and then the scheduling will occur as the vaccine is available,” said Case.

He says it’s possible that those who sign up might not be able to get the vaccine for a few more weeks.

“It’s completely possible that they would reward states that meet the May 1 deadline and hold back some vaccination on those who have not opened to all of their people,” said Green.

“I think everybody wants to do this the right way,” said Case. “The point is that there should be no reason really by May 1 that any state should not be able to open up eligibility across the board for vaccinations.”

The state plans to open up vaccinations to people 60 years and older on Monday. Green says that will take two weeks and will then extend it to those 50 years and older. He points out that the mandate allows the state to put pressure on the federal government to send more doses.

“So we will, in my opinion need to open up wide to all categories on May 1,” said Green. “That you know gives us that the kind of the high ground on this argument. We can ask the feds to give us all that we need.”

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