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EVSLIN: April crucial for putting pandemic behind us

There were good news items in the first few days of April, and they were about immunizations.

• The state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Officer, Dr Janet Berreman, announced that starting April 5 immunizations will be available to all people on Kaua‘i over the age of 16;

• The CDC announced that full immunization allows one to travel with lower risk (but still not advising travel and still need to wear masks);

• The CDC announced the results of a study that showed that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines not only prevented hospitalization and severe illness after two shots in 100% of people, and prevented even mild symptoms in 95%, but it appears to even prevent catching the virus for 90% of the people. This is a very important study (and we need more to prove it). The original studies showed people were prevented from becoming symptomatic but did not prove if people did or did not have the virus. This new study actually showed that 90% were protected from even catching the virus. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine appears to be very good, also. It also appears to prevent death or hospitalization in 100% of people and only requires one shot. But because it is new, it does not yet have enough research on its ability to prevent infection;

• There have also been over 100 million vaccinations given for COVID in America. Most of these shots have been Moderna or Pfizer (and just recently Johnson and Johnson), and the shots continue to appear to be very safe.

This brings me back to April. On April 5, Kaua‘i re-enters the state Safe Travels program. Trans-Pacific travelers can avoid quarantine with a single negative pre-flight test. Also on April 5, our schools enter a new phase of in-person learning. This might all seem like very good news also, except that the evidence increases daily that the world is in a race between vaccinations and the variants. Variants of COVID are emerging rapidly around the world, and are being blamed for surges in Europe, South America and the U.S. These surges are worse in Europe and Brazil, where vaccination efforts have been much-less successful. The news about COVID is not nearly as good as the news about the vaccines.

• Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new head of the national CDC, said she was very worried about letting our guard down too quickly, as the variants can be so dangerous. She actually said she “had a feeling of doom;”

• Hawai‘i is showing evidence of cases surging, which is being possibly fed by these new variants. Hawai‘i has had triple-digit increases in new cases over the past week, and in the end of March had the highest percentage increase in hospitalizations of all the states in the U.S., and about the 13th-most-rapid increase in the percentage of new cases. To be clear, our state numbers are still good compared to much of the country (except for Maui), but trends are important, and this is a worrisome trend;

• A new study in one of the world’s most-respected medical journals also reported that a single, pre-travel testing program, such as the Safe Travels program, only prevents 36% of those who might be infected and not detected from coming into an area. If you are tested in the early stages of the disease, your test will be falsely negative;

So, we are truly in a race between travelers bringing in the virus (and the variants) and the immunizations protecting us. Kaua‘i is starting the race with a head start. Our island has been one of the safest places in America during the pandemic. And thanks to the state DOH, the hospital systems and the other immunizing locations, we also have one of the highest immunization rates in the country. One of the reasons we have done so well is that we had so few people sick with COVID on Kaua‘i that our energies could go into vaccinating. We have done more than 39,000 immunizations on Kaua‘i. The DOH at its Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall has immunized over 23,000 people in just that location.

The goal for each of us in the month of April (and after) should be to get immunized as soon as you can, and to encourage those whom you know to get immunized also. All eligible adults should get immunized, but particularly consider getting immunized if you are over 60 or of any age and have medical conditions such as being overweight or diabetic or have high blood pressure or moderate to severe asthma. I also suggest that school staff, people who interface with visitors and parents with dependent children place a high priority on getting fully-vaccinated. Please join us in being part of the solution to putting COVID behind us and returning to a pandemic-free world.

If you go to the website site you can find information about the vaccines and get help with making appointments.

The race between the variants and the vaccines is very real, and together we can win it. We already have a head start. I believe we should all thank Mayor Kawakami and Berreman for leading their teams and the people of Kaua‘i into this head start.


This column represents a sharing of information. No content on this column should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from a family doctor or other qualified clinicians. Lee A. Evslin, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of The American Academy of Pediatrics. He was a former health-care administrator at Wilcox Medical Center, and periodically writes a column for the Garden Island.

  1. Mike April 4, 2021 3:31 am Reply

    Dr. Evslin had my concurrence until the last paragraph. From a public health perspective Kauai’s COVID numbers have been verify good because the county has worked to adhere to CDC guidance. I can hand out kudos to Kawakami for that. Now, though, he’s joined the ranks of most other politicians and is ignoring CDC guidance. So sorry, no pat on the back for Kawakami bowing to political pressure. Sure, Kauai has a head start to use the common metaphor, but if Kawakami had stuck with CDC guidance (which is easing for vaccinated individuals), we wouldn’t even be entering a race against COVID. At this point, based on DOH numbers roughly 70% of Kauai’s population is lacking sufficient antibody protection against COVID and there are people who would choose to be vaccinated who haven’t had the opportunity. Another month or so and we really would have reached an inflection point on the vaccination numbers, and we wouldn’t need metaphors such as a race. Sorry Mayor Derek, you’ve gone the path of Newsom in CA. In trying to keep everyone happy, you’re losing support from the side that was appreciative of what you’ve done. Nice try by Dr. Evslin to shore up that support, but I’m not buying in.

  2. Kauaidoug April 4, 2021 9:39 am Reply

    Dr Evslin, your articles have been a source light and reasoning in the last 14 months.

    1. judi April 4, 2021 3:23 pm Reply

      I agree totally that Dr Eveslin has been a source of light and reasoning. Whenever he shared information, this past year, I knew it would be very helpful…. easy to understand and based on science. Mahalo

  3. Jamie Rainbow April 4, 2021 6:18 pm Reply

    Thank you Dr. Evslin
    I have a question to ask the people of Kauai.

    I am planning a trip to Kauai at the end of May, We have all been vaccinated since the first week of April, there are 6 of us. What do you think?

  4. Dr. Leee April 4, 2021 8:15 pm Reply

    Have you and your family been vaccinated, which one did you get, did you have symptoms?

    1. Jamie Rainbow April 5, 2021 5:24 pm Reply

      I am the first in the group to get my second vaccine shot and that happened today, it was the Moderna, I am a 56 year old white male who works in the Ag industry in the central valley of California. Symptoms with both include feeling extremely tired , stomach discomfort = gas and gurgling with a quick trip to the privy, elevated temp (about a 1/2 degree) , chills. The other 5 people in my party will all have their second shot (Pfizer) by the end of this week (4-09-21) They all reported a mix of the above symptoms. Nothing remarkable. We had this same trip planned last May but we decided not to come because of covid and are willing to do the same now if it keeps the people of Kauai safe. We all want everybody to feel safe, so we happily mask and socially distance.

      Congrats on Ella, good to see the paddling sports alive and well.


  5. truth be known April 5, 2021 5:37 pm Reply

    Many countries around the world have had great success using an inexpensive drug, Ivermectin, to treat their patients. Not so in Corporate Snakes of America- got to push the experimental “vaccines” which aren’t really vaccines at all, but rather an experimental GMO RNA altering substance, upon which no long term studies have been done. You are the long term animal test subjects. We can hope that all goes well but there’s a lot of unanswered questions that need to be addressed.

    1. Bob Weiner M.D. April 6, 2021 7:14 am Reply

      truth be known
      I’m thinking if you actually knew the truth about something that maybe you would sign your name.

      1. truth be known April 6, 2021 3:11 pm Reply

        Dr. Weiner, if you would do your own research instead of relying on the propaganda propagated by the media and actually read the labels and the information sheets that accompany the “vaccines” you might realize that what I have stated is the “truth be known”. Please research the following link and tell us what you think.

      2. truth be known April 7, 2021 11:03 am Reply

        When you’re bucking a rising tide, you don’t punch holes in your boat. I’ve written two more answers to your comment but the Garden Island News has thus far not included them in this discussion. I would surmise that perhaps the truth has been censored. It’s a sorry state of affairs when the arbiter of the debate takes sides.

        1. George April 10, 2021 11:31 am Reply

          Truth, you site a youtube video as a source? Here is an article from the World Health Organization that refutes your argument.

  6. truth be known April 6, 2021 4:55 pm Reply

    Dr. Weiner, if you had the time and inclination to investigate my first U-Tube link, you may also enjoy this one by a very prominent Doctor and Researcher. It contains considerably more scientific and data based, double blind studies and up to date information.
    It has been said that doctors make poor students. Prove me wrong.

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