Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Hawaii

Kupuna and staff start to get COVID-19 vaccinations at Hawaii Kai Retirement Community.
Kupuna and staff start to get COVID-19 vaccinations at Hawaii Kai Retirement Community.(Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 4:15 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is dramatically ramping up COVID-19 vaccine distribution, but not everyone is eligible yet to get the shot.

That’s because there is still a limited supply of the vaccine in the islands and across the nation.

Three COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use in the United States.

The vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna both require two shots. Whatever vaccine you get first, you’ll get the same vaccine for your second dose.

A vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson requires a single shot.

  • Who can get the vaccine right now?

The state Health Department has outlined several phases for vaccine distribution.

Currently, the state is vaccinating those who fall in Phases 1a, 1b and 1c.

Those phases include residents who are 65 and older, frontline and other essential workers, and people who have high-risk medical conditions.

The final phase of distribution, Phase 2, includes anyone 16 and up not previously vaccinated.

  • How do I sign up to get the vaccine?

There are a number of vaccination efforts going on simultaneously, including at long-term care homes, hospitals and educational settings.

Mass vaccination sites are another way to get the vaccine.

Click here to find an available vaccination site where you live and sign up for an appointment.

  • How much does the vaccine cost?

The vaccine is free, but it’s always a good idea to check with your health insurance provider to confirm.

For more information, click here.

  • Is the vaccine mandatory?

It is not mandatory to get the vaccine. If you qualify but want to wait, you can do so.

The state Health Department said, “As more long-term data becomes available about the longer-term benefits and safety of the vaccine, the CDC will decide if the vaccine should be mandatory.”

  • Is the vaccine recommended for those who have had COVID-19?

People who have recovered from COVID-19 are being urged to get the vaccine if they are eligible.

The CDC notes that experts do not yet know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Natural immunity also varies from person to person.

  • Are there any populations who shouldn’t get the vaccine?

The CDC says those with a history of severe allergic reactions should be observed for 30 minutes after they receive each dose. Everyone else should be observed for 15 minutes.

Pregnant women or those who are nursing are being advised to consult with a health care professional if they are unsure whether to get the vaccine.

The CDC offers this advice: “A conversation between the patient and their clinical team may assist with decisions regarding the use of a mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, though a conversation with a healthcare provider is not required prior to vaccination.”

  • After getting the vaccine, is a mask still recommended?

You are still urged to wear a mask after getting the vaccine because while you may not get symptoms from the virus, there is a chance you can pass the virus on to others.

Social distancing and hyper-hygiene will also be a reality for the foreseeable future.

  • What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Many people will experience no or mild side effects from the vaccine.

Some people report experiencing flu-like symptoms for one to two days. Hawaii News Now spoke with some of those who received the vaccine and here’s what they had to say about the side effects.

  • Are the side effects from the second dose worse?

Clinical trials did show that the side effects experienced following the second dose were worse than the first. Many are being advised to schedule a day off work to coincide with your second dose.

While side effects can be troublesome, they’re a sign the vaccine is working.

For more on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, click here.

Have a question about vaccine distribution in Hawaii? Send us an email.

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