Some healthcare workers not associated with hospitals are still waiting for vaccine

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Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 11:25 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Medical professionals are in group 1-A, the first group designated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But many are still waiting for their first dose.

That’s even though the state Department of Health has already started vaccinating people in group 1-B.

At-risk nursing home residents started getting the shot Tuesday.

Last week, first responders — paramedics, lifeguards, firefighters and law enforcement — began rolling up their sleeves.

The state’s decision to move on to new phases has Big Island nurse Erica Macri wondering why she hasn’t been able to get an appointment for her vaccine yet.

“I’m trying to find out how I can go about getting on a list to get vaccinated,” Macri said. “What’s the timeline? That would be very helpful from DOH.”

Macri is an independent contractor for a home health agency. She goes into the homes of patients and fears being exposed or exposing the elderly residents she cares for.

Health officials said the hospitals are vaccinating doctors and other in-house workers first.

After that process is complete, the hospitals will start providing the service to outside healthcare workers, including those in private practice. That depends on the vaccine supply, which is expected to ramp up soon.

Dr. Lyla Prather runs Cachola Medical Clinic in Kalihi.

Trying to get the vaccine for herself and her staff, she called around to the hospitals and DOH last week.

The Queen’s Medical Center allowed her to get the shot, but her staff is still waiting.

Prather said the Health Department told her that could possibly happen next week but cannot provide any other details on a plan. “There’s really no guidance, they have no date, no time,” she said.

She said the delay puts the clinic in a bind because they have patients to see and cannot vaccinate all the employees at one time without rescheduling patients.

A spokesman for the Health Department said licensed medical workers are a priority, but coordinating those outside hospital walls is a complex process that they are still working on.

A survey is being used to get the contact information for those in private practice.

For the survey, click here.

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