State lawmakers, legislative staff get COVID-19 vaccine as essential workers

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 4:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some 500 state lawmakers, legislative staff and other employees who work at the state Capitol were able to get COVID-19 vaccines Thursday.

The state Health Department and Gov. David Ige have prioritized legislative bodies as part of Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

The phase includes frontline essential workers and adults 75 and older. Altogether, the group makes up about 20% of Hawaii’s population.

The next phase includes adults age 65 to 74 years, and people 16 to 64 years with high-risk medical conditions, as well as essential workers not included in Phase 1B — roughly 47% of the population.

DOH said vaccinating legislative staff is a preventive measure to keep critical government functioning, especially amid the pandemic.

Some lawmakers did express concern that the vaccination effort would give people the impression they were moving ahead of more vulnerable people.

But they point out that a cluster at the state Capitol could derail progress in getting millions of dollars in emergency pandemic aid out to communities and organizations.

State Rep. Dee Morikawa, who represents Kauai, said the vaccination was particularly important for Neighbor Island lawmakers because they travel to Oahu and are at risk of infection.

“It’s just very important to have that extra sense of security or protection with the vaccine and then we can get the people’s work done, deal with the budget, deal with health care infrastructure,” she said.

Legisative leaders said in a news release that they were informed by the Health Department that they should get vaccinated.

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