Questions linger over how essential workers eligible for vaccines can actually get them

Top stories from across Hawaii and around the world, as seen on the 9 p.m. news broadcast from Hawaii News Now.
Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 9:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Businesses are flooding the state Health Department with calls seeking information on whether their employees are eligible for vaccines ― and how they get them.

And for many, the answers aren’t easy to find.

The state is currently offering vaccines to first responders and healthcare workers, those 75 and older and a long list of essential workers, from educators to grocery workers to people who work in tourism.

Green is on the vaccine prioritization committee and says because demand outstrips supply, they’re asking the Health Department to set priorities within each category.

[Read more: Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Hawaii]

“The simplest question the person should ask themselves is, do they spend a lot of time with others closer than 6 feet apart?” said Green.

“And if they do ... and if it’s an important job, which most jobs are important, if they spend that much time close to others then they probably will need to be vaccinated sooner rather than later.”

Bryden Fujimoto is a bartender at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and may qualify as an essential worker because he works closely with people.

We’re in contact with a lot of people like a lot of tourists and a lot of locals too,” said Fujimoto. “So it’s just a lot of chance, every day that we take.”

Fujimoto and other restaurant workers could end up in line for their shots before others who work in the hotel’s back office.

“Let’s speak about hospitality, for example, it may very well be that someone has an important role at the hotel, they are doing accounting work,” said Green.

“But they may not be in this one big category, because they’re not front facing a lot of travelers that are coming in.”

It would probably help not to spread the virus and make everybody a little bit safer, said Fujimoto. “And then for us to rest a little easier too when we come to work and do our job.”

More information on who is eligible for vaccinations can be found by clicking here.

Businesses that have essential workers are being asked to complete a Health Department survey to notify the agency of their interest in getting vaccines. To access the survey, click here.

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