Hawaii plans to operate mass vaccination centers on Oahu

HONOLULU — Thousands of Hawaii residents are expected to have access to COVID-19 vaccines when the state opens mass vaccination centers on Oahu, officials said.

The state plans to begin providing vaccinations beginning Monday at Honolulu’s Pier 2 in partnership with Hawaii Pacific Health, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Hawaii Pacific Health is the parent of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Straub Medical Center, Pali Momi Medical Center and Wilcox Medical Center on Kauai.

The Queen’s Medical Center announced plans to operate a second large-scale vaccination clinic in the final week of January at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu with an initial goal of administering 2,500 to 3,000 doses daily.

Health officials hope to administer up to 100,000 vaccine shots this month and up to 150,000 doses monthly in February, March, April and May, Democratic Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.

Democratic House Speaker Scott Saiki, however, said Tuesday night that plans for the vaccination centers were not final because contracts had not been executed.

Hawaii Public Radio reported via Twitter that Saiki said Green made premature announcements and “disseminated unconfirmed information.

More significantly, he misinformed elders who have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to be vaccinated.”

There were 26,000 vaccine doses administered in Hawaii in December. As of Monday, nearly 39,000 residents had been vaccinated and 109,250 doses were delivered by drug makers Pfizer and Moderna. The Hawaii Department of Health said tens of thousands of additional vaccine doses are expected to ship this week.

Queen’s Medical Center President Jason Chang said online registration for the planned centers should make the process fast and efficient.

“Ideally, you’d like to get through more people, but we want to be safe and cautious to start,” Chang said.

The health department reported 172 new corona­virus infections on Monday, bringing Hawaii’s total since the start of the pandemic to 23,513 cases.

On Thursday the state set a record for the new year with 322 newly confirmed cases. The figure was the highest since August, when infections spiked to 355.

The new surge is attributed primarily to holiday gatherings, Green said.

“This is still the remnant of the surge from New Year’s,” Green said. “Almost all have been from those social gatherings.”

Green said cases appear to be decreasing.

“I do believe it’s beginning to come down,” Green said. “I don’t think we’re going back to Tier 1 as long as we keep a lid on social gatherings.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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