Those seeking Hep A vaccine encounter long lines, waits

Those seeking Hep A vaccine encounter long lines, waits
Published: Aug. 17, 2016 at 8:31 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 18, 2016 at 9:03 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Instead of giving flu shots and filling prescriptions Wednesday, Alanna Isobe and her staff at Safeway in Kapahulu were overwhelmed with scores of people looking to get the Hepatitis A vaccine.

"Typically we carry 10 to 20 doses. Now we keep at least 300 to 400 doses at a time," Isobe said.

The Department of Health is advising anyone who dined at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu or Kauai in the last two weeks to get a vaccine, regardless of whether they ate the tainted scallops believed to be the likely source of the Hepatitis A outbreak.

Over the past 24 hours, hundreds have heeded that warning, pushing up waiting times at pharmacies to 30 minutes to an hour.

While what happened there seems like an isolated incident, high demand is putting a strain on pharmacy workers.

"We are really overwhelmed," Isobe said. "We are getting a lot of people yelling that we need more help. But we have everyone scheduled at overtime just to even be here. So if everyone could be patient. This is an urgent thing for everyone."

At Minute Clinics, customers can check wait times online before they head to the pharmacy.

About 4 p.m., the wait time at the Minute Clinic on Moanalua Road in Aiea was more than more than three hours. The Kaneohe Bay Drive Minute Clinic had a 70-minute wait time.

But the Minute Clinic in Kapolei had a 28-minute wait time. And at the Longs on South King Street, customers were waiting about 46 minutes to get a shot.

And not all pharmacies are full.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the waiting area at Times Super Market in the Kamehameha Shopping Center only had one customer. The man got a Hepatitis A vaccine in minutes.

"I asked my boss if I could go. I already got the prescription from my doctor, and he said OK, go for it," said customer Art Visaya.

Companies across the island are also taking steps to protect their employees by setting up vaccination clinics. Times is offering such clinics to employers, and has seen a "huge increase" in interest, said Patrick Uyemoto, Times clinical pharmacy manager.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.