Shipments of COVID vaccines to Hawaii slow as demand drastically drops

There will be no Pfizer shipments this week, and none next week either. That's because health officials say hospitals on the neighbor islands are having trouble
Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 4:38 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:43 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Health turned away more than half of its federal allotment of the Pfizer vaccine this week as demand for the shot continues to drop.

Health officials say Neighbor Island hospitals won’t be getting any doses at all. That’s because they’re are having trouble getting rid of what they already have.

“When it comes to our adult population, the demand has dropped off,” said Hilton Raethel, head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

He said hospitals ― and their vaccination clinics ― primarily use the Pfizer vaccine. The last time the state accepted its total weekly allotment, just over 44,000 doses, was more than two weeks ago.

Records show on May 16, Oahu received about 36,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine while the Neighbor Islands got a little more than 8,000.

Since then, numbers have taken a nosedive.

This week, the state’s turning away more than 60% of it’s total allotment. Oahu requested just 16,000 doses. The Neighbor Islands didn’t place orders at all.

“For two weeks in a row, which is this week and next week, none of the Neighbor Islands have ordered the Pfizer trays,” Raethel said. “Now there is still some Moderna being distributed on the Neighbor Islands but that’s relatively small amounts.”

State Department of Health spokesperson Brooks Baehr said the focus now and in the coming weeks is “generating more demand.”

As part of that, the state plans to launch an incentive program to bolster vaccinations. The state is expected to announce the details Friday, but it’s likely to include gifts from merchants and airline miles.

“Beyond the incentives we really want to generate interest by sharing good credible scientific information about just how safe these vaccines really are,” Baehr said.

The plan is also to expand access.

DOH officials say 185 vaccination events are scheduled this month. That’s in addition to the more than 200 locations that are already out there.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.