State preparing to ‘soon’ expand vaccine eligibility to those 70 and up

State preparing to ‘soon’ expand vaccine eligibility to those 70 and up
82-year-old Patricia Souza gets the COVID-19 vaccine by Pharmacare manager, Reece Uyeno. (Source: Pharmacare Hawaii)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state said Friday that it is preparing to expand COVID vaccine eligibility “soon” to those 70 and up, but did not announce a date for doing so.

Currently, seniors 75 and older are eligible for the vaccines.

“Soon, we’d like to welcome those 70 and older to get vaccinated,” Health Director Dr. Libby Char said. “We know we still have kupuna and frontline essential workers waiting to be vaccinated.”

Char made similar statements on HNN’s Sunrise, saying that the timing of the decision depends on Hawaii’s limited vaccine supply ― further stretched this week because of shipment delays.

Severe winter storms on the mainland have delayed the arrival of tens of thousands of doses to Hawaii. This week, thousands of appointments had to be rescheduled.

The state started vaccinated those 75 and up in mid-January.

[Read more: State leaders mull who should be prioritized in next phase of vaccine distribution]

In expanding eligibility to those 70 and up, the state would be moving to the next phase in its vaccination plan (Phase 1C).

That phase includes those 65 and up, more essential workers and people with conditions that put them at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19.

In all, Phase 1C includes roughly 400,000 residents.

Because it’s so big, officials have been working to determine how to further prioritize people who fall into Phase 1C categories.

That’s why the state would be expanding eligibility to those 70 and up initially.

This story will be updated.

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