Hawaii plans to offer drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations

HONOLULU — Health officials in Hawaii have partnered with local pharmacies to offer drive-thru and in-home COVID-19 vaccinations for residents as the state prepares to increase immunizations.

The state Department of Health started scheduling licensed care homes in Oahu this week, while neighboring islands have already started drive-thru clinics, county hubs and other mobile services, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday.

“This is another major step forward in the implementation of our state’s vaccination plan,” Health Director Libby Char said Friday. “With residents and staff of larger long-term care facilities such as assisted living communities now in progress, we’re now turning our attention to residential care homes and community care foster family homes.”

Pharmacies have been assigned to licensed care homes based on ZIP code. Officials say there are more than 1,200 community care foster family homes, 445 adult residential care homes and about 50 homes for those with development disabilities.

The health department is working with employers to identify front-line workers for the vaccination. The department is planning to launch an online portal where workers can register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There’s so many moving parts because a lot of different groups have to be accommodated. At the same time, we have to distribute vaccines not just to multiple islands, but multiple organizations that are administering the vaccine,” department spokesperson Janice Okubo said.

Officials said more than 56,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine as of Friday, and more than 152,000 doses had been delivered to the state, including 39,700 this week.

Health officials reported 150 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and no new deaths on Friday. The state has had more than 24,000 cases and more than 300 deaths since the pandemic began in March.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new 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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