Are mainland visitors allowed to get vaccinated in Hawaii? The answer might surprise you.

Updated: Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:25 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Hawaii residents are outraged after it was revealed that some COVID-19 vaccines are going to mainland visitors.

Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said in news conference on Monday that whoever registers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine portal “VAMS” can receive a shot anywhere in the country.

“In our clinic we had somebody from California who came here, but she registered in California and she said VAMS is a system where you can get it anywhere once you register, which is true,” Pang said.

“So, we gave it to her.”

Those remarks angered some Maui residents.

“Are you frickin’ kidding me?” said Haiku resident Carmen Gardner.

“I was incredibly enraged,” said Kihei resident Tina Cunningham.

Both Cunningham and Gardner believe the vaccines being shipped to Hawaii should go to Hawaii residents first.

“I’m 69 and I had a heart issue and my husband has stage four cancer and neither of us can get it ... and we’re giving it to visitors first?” Gardner said.

Cunningham added, “I felt like that was very entitled for somebody that’s visiting to go.”

Hawaii Pacific Health CEO Raymond Vara said priority will be given to Hawaii residents, but they also aren’t going to waste any shots.

“If we have three doses left, we’re going to give that dose to whoever will bare their arm and allow us to vaccinate them,” said Vara.

According the CDC’s website, Hawaii has one of the slowest vaccine rollout responses in the nation. Data shows Hawaii has administered just over 23% of distributed vaccines, putting the state third last in the country.

US Rep. Ed Case criticized local leaders, saying they aren’t moving fast enough.

“We’re down in the bottom quartile of the country right now in terms of the utilization of the vaccine. There’s a lot of vaccine that have arrived here in Hawaii but are not used,” Case said.

Getting a vaccine is by appointment only. For more information on how to get an appointment, click here.

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