Vaccines could come to Hawaii as soon as mid-December, says Lt. Gov. Josh Green

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is another step closer to being approved here in the U.S.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement saying a review found the vaccine to be both safe and effective, adding that there are “no specific safety concerns identified.” The FDA still has to make a decision on whether to grant emergency use, but that could be coming down in a matter of days. Once that happens, the vaccine can be distributed to the public.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the first people that will be offered the vaccine in Hawaii will be health care workers and kupuna, who live in long term care facilities and seem to have the highest mortality rate locally.

“The presumption right now is that we are going to get about 12,675 vaccinations initially in the week of December thirteenth,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Green says if we’re lucky, the state could get as much as 83 to 84-thousand doses in the first month or so, but some of this depends on what the federal government approves.

“The Pfizer folks, if we get what we hope we could get, that 12,670 in the first week, then a little bit more in the second week and then even a little bit more the third week, the week of the 27th. Moderna would start about the 20th if things continue to go as planned and that could mean 25,000 from them and then another 11,000,” Green explained.

He tells us the next group of people to get the vaccine would be first responders, folks in the line of fire for COVID-19 and the elderly.

“When we get to like phase two, and it’s more out into the community, that’s when we’ll be reaching out to people. Mostly, people who are in the next tier of risk with some chronic illness,” said the Lt. Governor. “We’ll set up centralized places to go. There could very well be something at Stan Sheriff or at different spots around each county.”

In the meantime, the firefighters union tells us they received a special notice on Tuesday saying those interested should complete a sign up form to coordinate the vaccination process. The department and union are encouraging firefighters to get vaccinated because they too respond to medical alarms.

“All of the medical calls or the vast majority of the medical calls come in as COVID-related calls. So every time they go out, every time they respond, that’s another chance, another risk for them,” said Bobby Lee, President of the Hawaii Firefighters Association, which represents about 2,000 active duty firefighters.

We also learned from the Honolulu Police Department and police union that there’s a survey asking officers and civilian employees if they would take the vaccine.

Jim Howe, Honolulu Emergency Services Department Director, sent us this statement:

“The Honolulu Emergency Services Department has played an incredibly important role as the primary life-saving responders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paramount to this effort, has been the role of our paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians in responding, treating and transporting more than 600 COVID-19 positive patients. The heroic efforts of our paramedics and EMTs have been instrumental in keeping those infected with the virus, alive. We are pleased there is a vaccine nearly ready for dissemination to our personnel. HESD is working closely with the city and state to make sure we have vaccines available to those in our department who choose to get vaccinated.”

Jim Howe, Honolulu Emergency Services Department Director

Green says folks should understand that everybody will not get vaccinated at the very beginning.

“We have 4,000 practicing doctors right now. We have like 13,000 nurses, I believe, practicing,” said Green. “So it might not all happen in the first week or the second week, but we’re going to make sure that anybody who truly wants a vaccine, gets it.”

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