Second vaccine shots for large group of seniors could limit distribution of first doses

Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 7:01 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii seniors 75 and older who got COVID vaccines at large distribution sites in Hawaii will soon get their second doses and that’s putting a squeeze on supplies.

It has been 21 days since kupuna started getting their first doses of the COVID vaccines at vaccination sites on Oahu and the Neighbor Islands. Those who got the Pfizer branded vaccine will be due for second doses starting this week; Moderna recipients will start getting second doses next week.

The CEOs of Hawaii Pacific Health and Queen’s Medical Center say giving the second dose is the priority, but could tax the state’s already limited vaccine supply barring a dramatic increase in new shipments from the federal government. Tens of thousands of seniors are in the group due for their second doses, limiting the number of people able to get their first dose for the next few weeks.

“It concerns us that we’re going to be limited to mostly doing second shots and not being able to schedule new appointments for first shots,” said HPH CEO Raymond Vara.

Dr. Jill Green, of the Queen’s Medical Center, also said they are watching the numbers.

“We are worried at this point for the next three weeks,” Green said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Josh Green is hopeful that the federal government will start sending more vaccines to the islands. He said distribution should ramp up even more in early March.

Until then there could be fewer appointments for those wanting to get their first shot.

Health officials are also watching carefully as Johnson & Johnson awaits emergency use authorization on their one-dose vaccine. That is expected to dramatically ease the burden on supplies.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine provides about 60% protection, but keeps infections under control to prevent the most severe cases of COVID-19.

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