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Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders vaccinated at far lower rates than other groups

Updated: Mar. 16, 2021 at 5:24 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Less than 9% of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders statewide have been vaccinated against COVID-19, the state Health Department said Tuesday.

That compares to 25% of Asian residents and 19% of whites.

Meanwhile, 6.4% of Black residents in the islands have received at least one COVID vaccine dose.

The Health Department released the demographic data for the first time Tuesday after weeks of getting requests for the numbers.

Health Department officials said the numbers will be updated on weekdays to bring more transparency to what groups are getting vaccinated ― and how under-served communities can get more help.

“We’re committed to doing more and doing better,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist.

The figures come as the Health Department also releases a new report highlighting health disparities during the COVID pandemic.

Pacific Islander communities ― which have some of the state’s lowest vaccination rates ― have been much harder hit by the virus, seeing far more infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Community groups said access to the vaccine remains a concern, with many struggling to get appointments. There also continues to be vaccine hesistancy, and advocates said more needs to be done to educate the public and address their concerns.

Kemble noted that the new vaccine data by ethnicity and race does not break the numbers down further by income level, education or geographic area.

But the disparities do persist by age.

Some 59% of all those 70 and up who have been vaccinated have been Asian; 32% have been white and just 8% have been Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders.

The state Health Department said it was working to further break down the data to look at specific communities, including Pacific Islanders and Filipinos alone.

This story will be updated.

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