State: Accelerated vaccine distribution plan could get Hawaii to herd immunity by summer

The estimated timeline comes as President Joe Biden acts on his vaccine rollout plans.
Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:12 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state believes President Joe Biden’s plan to ramp up the distribution of COVID vaccinations could help Hawaii achieve herd immunity by the summer.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says they are already accelerating vaccinations to be able to give shots to as many as 75,000 people per week. Green said the state should be able to reach herd immunity by July 4.

Herd immunity means that a sufficient percentage of the population has achieved immunity to the virus, preventing its from spreading in the community to a large degree.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden announced that he is using the Defense Production Act to launch a full-scale effort to address the shortage of vaccine supplies.

Biden said state leaders will be notified three weeks in advance on what their supply will be and when they will get it. “So we will both increase the supply in the short term by more than 15% and give our states and local partners more certainty about when deliveries will arrive,” said Biden.

Green said the state is currently receiving a week’s notice, which is causing preparation issues.

“And that has made it somewhat difficult to plan the rollout and to get the vaccines all scheduled,” said Green. “But with three weeks’ notice, we’ll be able to really anticipate how many first shots we can give, how many second shots we can always be prepared for.”

Just before Biden’s announcement, Hawaii lawmakers were demanding a better timeline from the department of health during a hearing.

“How many people are going to take it? How many people are not going to take it and when we think this is going to wrap up?,” asked State Rep. Gene Ward.

“Something that we can tell our constituents, there’s light at the end of the tunnel?”

Dr. Libby Char, director of the Hawaii Health Department, said under a “best case scenario” the state expects to finish vaccinating anyone who wants one by August or September.

“I think in Hawaii, we’re going to get about 75% of our people choosing to vaccinate, that’s going to be something around 900,000 individuals,” said Green. “So we personally need about 1.8 million doses.”

Green said he’s looking forward to the approval of Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

He adds that Johnson and Johnson is a one shot process and thinks a lot of younger people and people with very low risk will want it.

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