HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first of two mass vaccination sites on Oahu will launch Monday at Pier 2 amid a push to rapidly increase the number of people getting shots each day.
Officials stressed the sites will be vaccinating people by appointment only.
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Hawaii Pacific Health will be managing the Pier 2 site, a cruise ship terminal, and said it has already started randomly contacting some of its patients who are eligible for the vaccines.
Ray Vera, president and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, said the organization has 20,000 doses of the vaccine set aside to distribute at the site.
Once a person gets a shot at the site, their appointment for a second dose will be scheduled.
Queen’s Health Systems will manage the second site ― at the Neal Blaisdell Center ― and said it will launch a portal to allow to people to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, Queen’s President and CEO, said she hopes the site will ramp up to 3,000 vaccinations a day but believes it will start at about 1,000.
“There is nothing more important to us than getting everyone vaccinated,” she said.
Officials said the sites will serve two key priority groups for the vaccine: Seniors 75 and over and essential workers not previously eligible, including teachers and postal workers.
Hawaii’s distribution of available vaccine is among the slowest in the nation, according to national rankings. Becker’s Hospital Review put Hawaii 47th in the nation for its pace of getting people vaccinated, but their figures on available vaccines didn’t match the state’s totals.
As of Wednesday, the state said it had received 109,250 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and was expecting tens of thousands more this week.
The most recent number for people vaccinated ― about 40,000 ― was from Saturday.
According to the state’s counts, 10,500 people were vaccinated from Jan. 4 to 10. In a concerning sign, that’s actually down from 17,000 vaccines administered from Dec. 28 to Jan. 3.
The Washington Post estimates that Hawaii has vaccinated less than 9% of it prioritized population but has gotten enough vaccine for 29%.
State Health Department officials said the mass vaccination sites are in addition to other efforts to vaccinate those in priority groups, including frontline healthcare workers and care home residents.
The sites were formally announced at a news conference Wednesday led by House Speaker Scott Saiki.
Noticeably absent from the news conference: The governor, Lt. Gov. Josh Green and state Health Director Libby Char, who a spokesman said was testifying at the House Finance Committee instead.
This story will be updated.