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Vaccination sites prepare to ramp up as record number of doses head to Hawaii

Updated: Apr. 2, 2021 at 6:19 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s the moment health officials have been waiting for: A record number of COVID vaccines are on the way to Hawaii and immunization sites are getting ready.

“We are basically expanding capacity across the entire state,” said Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “That is happening as we speak.”

Raethel said the state Department of Health is expecting nearly 40,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, along with about 30,000 doses of Moderna and 21,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson.

He said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot will be distributed widely across the state.

“Some of it’s going to be delivered to the neighbor island district health offices. They’re especially focusing on high-risk and hard to reach populations,” he said.

[Related: Hawaii Island will expand COVID vaccine eligibility to those age 16 and up]

“Some of it we are hoping is going to be able to go to some of the pods. The hospital pods as well so they can open up a line for Johnson & Johnson.”

On top of the 91,000 doses that DOH is expecting, the federal government is sending another 30,000 doses straight to Hawaii pharmacies, including to Longs, Walgreen’s, Walmart and Safeway locations.

All total close to 700,000 shots have been administered statewide, including to the military community.

Raethel says with so many people getting the shot, he’s troubled that the state’s daily COVID case count isn’t dropping. “The fact that we have over 100 infections a day is not good,” he said. “That means the incidence is higher in that non-vaccinated population.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green agrees.

“Those who have been vaccinated, particularly the kupuna in our state, their case counts dropped down to very low,” he said. “Who’s getting infected? People who are 18-44.”

Green says the Valley Isle is of particular concern and that resources at Maui Memorial Hospital are starting to wear thin. He says 19 patients are currently hospitalized there with the virus.

“Only two of them are very elderly it appears. Most of them are falling into that age range of their late 30s, 40s, and early 50s,” Green said.

“The two individuals who are elderly had only received one shot (of the vaccine).”

Going into the holiday weekend, Green is asking people to avoid large gatherings. If you are around people he says you should mask up and keep your distance.

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