Amid encouraging vaccine news, state releases draft vaccine distribution plan

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Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine continues, the state has released its 230-page draft plan for how it will distribute that vaccine in the islands.

“Roughly 120 individuals representing about 90 organizations have been involved in the review and refinement of the plan,” Brooks Baehr, Health Department spokesman.

He added that the plan is still a work in progress.

In recent days, Americans have gotten encouraging news about the hunt for a vaccine.

On Monday, Moderna announced its COVID-19 vaccine is nearly 95% effective. The vaccine can also be stored in a standard refrigerator temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 days, giving it the edge over Pfizer’s vaccine. That company’s version can only be stored for five days in a fridge.

Last week, the company announced its vaccine is 90% effective.

Because both vaccine candidates require such different handling, state lawmakers are urging the Department of Health to ensure that it’s plan is nimble ― and equipped to handle different scenarios.

"We need to make sure the Department of Health has game plans, specific for each vaccination, so we can get them out to our people as soon as possible,” said House Health Committee Chair John Mizuno.

The state’s plan also outlines priority groups for the vaccine.

The document has front line workers and those at highest risk in the first group to receive the shot, followed by teachers and school staff, those in prisons and homeless shelters.

Young adults and children are in the third group, and the fourth group is for “all others.”

There are still no details on how to handle that last and largest group.

"That ‘everybody else’ group is the one that will need a lot of management because the first three you can go to a specific location or entity to distribute the vaccine,” said state Rep. Sylvia Luke.

Baehr said the state is considering multiple options when it comes to that last issue, including drive-thru sites, similar to how the current surge testing is handled.

Another option: Large ballrooms or the Convention Center.

But those options are not specifically mentioned in the updated draft plan.

Baehr said planning has been ongoing in some capacity for the past six months and a formal committee was established on Sept. 16. Other states, like Idaho, which is similar in population size, reported their planning committee started working on it months earlier ― in June.

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