State sharing COVID-19 vaccine plans

LIHU‘E — Every state was required to submit a draft COVID-19 vaccination-distribution plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

Ronald Balajadia, state Department of Health Immunization Branch chief, said the state’s draft, not currently available to the public, will be available on the DOH website after feedback from the CDC and stakeholders is incorporated.

During a press conference Thursday, Balajadia, along with Lt. Gov. Josh Green and Gov. David Ige, shared some details.

Pending federal authorization, a vaccine could be available as early as the end of the year, Green said. By February through May, more vaccinations will hopefully be available, he said.

“The goal, of course, is to get immunity from COVID-19,” Green said. This could look like two shots about four weeks apart, he said.

“As the initial rollout comes, we are aware there will be limited vaccine dosages at the onset, and that vaccine will be available to those within certain criteria or priority groups,” Balajadia said.

This first draft identifies first responders, health-care employees, long-term health-care providers, those with underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk of COVID-19, and those 65 and up living in long-term facilities, as the first round of vaccine targets.

The second tier includes essential workers, like teachers, those with underlying health conditions that put them at moderate risk of COVID-19, and those in or working at group homes specializing in physical or mental disabilities, homeless shelters or correctional facilities.

The third groups include younger people, from newborn to 22 years old, and employees at increased risk levels, and the fourth group includes everybody else.

The state is working with over 150 stakeholders across 90 organizations in “vaccination workgroups” with guidance from the CDC, to mitigate COVID-19-related illnesses, hospitalizations and death. Balajadia said stakeholders in the private sector, federal government and medical field are working on details of who fits into these targeted groups.

“There are many important details that we need from the CDC to finalize and operationalize our plan,” Ige said. “It’s important to start planning now so we’re ready when a safe and effective vaccine is available.”

Developing immunity

Experts, Ige said, say that 60% to 70% of the population must develop immunity to “break the chain of transmission.”

“A safe and effective vaccine is the best way to reach this level of immunity,” Ige said. “Once we get to that level, we can get more aggressive about reviving our economy.”

The best estimates on when a vaccine would be available, Ige said, would be at least a few months. “However, we want distribution instructions and procedures in place that would allow us to get everyone protected as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

More funds available

The federal government has provided another $800,000 for vaccine-distribution investment, Ige said.

“These funds still are not enough,” Ige said, nothing that this new money is being used by the DOH to divert staff to vaccine development and additional employees.

“This supports the most-important pillar of the pandemic action plan: protecting public health,” Ige said.

Safe Travels

In the first week of the Safe Travels program, the state had 58,611 people screened, including 49,791 exempted and 7,293 quarantined. In addition, the state created a surveillance program to screen about 10% of incoming travelers.

Of the people randomly screened in the last week, the state reported one positive case.

Green identified November as the earliest for allowing in international travelers, but that is still up in the air.

State reports 102 new cases

On Thursday, the state reported 102 new positive COVID-19 cases, including 52 on O‘ahu, 18 on Maui, 29 on Hawai‘i Island and three residents outside of the state.

Heading into flu season, the state is expecting to see an increase in positive coronavirus cases, Balajadia said, noting that prevention measures, like masks and social distancing, remain vital.

“Let’s hope 2021 looks a lot better than 2020,” Green said.


Sabrina Bodon, can be reached at 245-0441 or

  1. Jim Sanchez October 23, 2020 11:47 am Reply

    Thank goodness some MAINLAND companies are working on vaccines. Perhaps the islander will now be respectful of mainland tourist who visit our great paradise

  2. Rick October 23, 2020 4:12 pm Reply

    Stop looking to the government and or corporations for how to be “healthy” They have a terrible track record! It is so sad that so many elderly will be sold this crap. I repeat SOLD this crap! You wanna roll the dice with your grandparents life, then get the vax and cross your fingers…

  3. Chris October 23, 2020 9:49 pm Reply

    Let me guess…. If the “curve” isn’t flat, after so long of the vax being open to the public, are we going to see forced vax? I know most Americans will agree on forced vax?….it’s for the safty and a long life to live on this earth? Because that’s all we have is this life and nothing else after it…at least thats what the American Government and filthy rich are saying.

  4. Shot in the Dark October 24, 2020 10:03 pm Reply

    Beware…Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread !

    Already several people in South Korea are dying from the Covid-19 vaccine. They are stopping their program.

    For many decades people have been dying in hospitals from medical errors, lately it is about 400,000 people die a year in hospitals from medical errors. Many of the deaths are caused by too much of, or the wrong, prescription drugs.

    400,000 people dying from 1 category, medical errors in hospitals in a single year, is like 1,000 jet airliners falling out of the sky with all passengers aboard killed. If that happened the FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, would stop all flights until the cause was found and eliminated.

    But not with sacred medical car, they are protected with Hush Hush.

    And now without any further ado, roll out the Covid19 Vaccines. So that those knowing nothing about viruses and their own immume system and fear they are going to die from the virus, and yet they know less about a manmade laboratory disease in a vaccine, yet can’t wait to get the vaccine shot, just like sheep waiting to walk into a poisonous pool of “sheep dip”.

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