Vaccination efforts to ramp up following the holidays in Hawaii

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state expects to receive 17,675 doses on Monday and Tuesday. The Health Department says as of Thursday about 25,000 people have been vaccinated.

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Officials expect some will likely get their second dose of the vaccine this week. The Health Department says the state has received 65,250 doses as of Monday morning, with shipments coming in weekly.

“While it was a relatively slow start for a number of reasons, including the holidays, and all the logistics, and all the, you know, the planning that’s involved in doing this, we will be ramping up,” said Healthcare Association of Hawaii President Hilton Raethel. “We’ll be getting a lot more doses out and a lot more doses into a lot more people’s arms.”

The state anticipated for roughly 82,000 doses to arrive by the end of December. But Raethel says there were some manufacturing and logistical issues.

“This is a huge initiative,” said Raethel. “You know. Trying to get vaccine across the whole United States. So it’s not unexpected that there was some delays in the initial rollout.”

DOH officials say given the enormous challenge the process presents, the state believes the vaccination process is going well.

The state says people in phase 1-A, which are health care workers and those in long-term care facilities, are still being vaccinated. Vaccinations for first responders have also begun, and they’re in group 1-B. Officials will be working through that category, which include kupuna 75 and older and frontline essential workers, this month and into February.

“There’s 109,000 individuals that are 75 plus in our state, that’s our really vulnerable population,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. “When we have large pods that we’re going to start, we’ll be announcing that in the next day or two. Those will be at centralized locations where we can invite, through the community, people who are over 75 in large numbers to come and get vaccinated.”

Lieutenant Governor Green says many of these people next in line for the vaccine will be notified through places like AARP and their doctors. The vaccines can stay in the freezer for up to six months, but Green says he expects to turn these vaccines over every four to six weeks.

“The only challenge one has is if during a vaccination session, if two or three doses are remaining in syringes, and you run out of patients or people to be vaccinated,” he said. “So we do have an alternate list. And we’ve had extremely little waste.”

Green tells us they’ve actually gotten more vaccine out of the vials than expected.

“We were only expecting to get five doses per vial and we’re getting six almost every time. That’s like 20% more.”

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