State’s slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout blamed on late deliveries, holiday season

Updated: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:54 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan has been slower than first expected, but officials are hopeful that the pace will pick up.

Health officials blame the delay on two factors.

First, not all of the expected doses of the vaccine arrived on time. The state was expecting 81,000 doses in December, but only got about 60,000.

Second, the holiday season also presented a challenge, limiting the number of immunization clinics that the state was able to utilize.

As of Friday, roughly 25,900 doses of coronavirus vaccines had been administered across the state.

The majority have gone to frontline caregivers, while work to immunize residents at long-term care facilities is also underway.

“This is a huge initiative, when you think about the logistics of what we’re trying to do. So it’s not surprising there are some hiccups in the process,” said Hilton Raethel, the executive director of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

Although Raethel expected the state would be a little further along in the process, he says Hawaii’s vaccine distribution rate is in the top 20th percentile in the country.

Additionally, no one has experienced any severe side effects to the shot.

“We have not had any reports to date of any anaphylactic reaction,” Raethel said.

Raethel says the state’s goal is to have all of the Hawaii’s healthcare workers immunized by the end of January ― a goal that comes as the number of new COVID cases has once again started to rise.

“I’m a little worried,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “The positivity rate for Oahu ticked up to 4.51%. That’s significantly higher than the 3% we were seeing for some time.”

Green says that while the number of hospitalizations in Hawaii is still manageable, it too is trending in the wrong direction.

“We had 101 people in the hospital today,” he said. “That’s the highest number that we’ve had since I believe October 17.”

Two more shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine were expected to arrive Monday, bringing the total number of doses the state’s received to 91,700.

The focus now is getting all healthcare providers who aren’t affiliated with a hospital signed up for the shot. All independent healthcare providers will need to register for the vaccine on the Hawaii Department of Health’s website.

That form, which can be viewed here, includes 31 questions.

“Based on their office location they will be mapped to a hospital, one of these hospital vaccination hubs. And the hospital vaccination hub will reach out to them by email or cell phone, by text, and connect with them so they can schedule and appointment,” said Raethel.

Some new details about vaccinating the broader public are expected to be announced in a news conference scheduled for Tuesday.

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