COVID-19 Update: Hawaii's Vaccine Distribution
Hawaii has begun vaccinations statewide, prioritizing healthcare personnel, long-term care facility residents, first responders, frontline essential workers, and adults age 75 and older.
According to Hawaii News Now, around 190,000 people have been vaccinated so far. State officials are cautiously optimistic that immunization is decreasing the spread of COVID-19 throughout Hawaii.
“It’s already having an impact we believe in the number of people who are getting sick,” said the head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Hilton Raethel, “And it helps reduce the transmission rate in the community.”
The state also faces the vaccine shortage that is plaguing the nation. Raethel told Hawaii News Now that Hawaii is “receiving about 40,000 doses of vaccine a week.” Most of these supplies, however, are being allocated towards the second doses for those who have already received the vaccine.
But distribution isn’t the only challenge that the state is facing. According to HPR, “Only 44% of Hawaii residents would be willing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.” In response to these alarming statistics, the state has increased funding to community programs that can help build the public’s trust. Public, private, and nonprofit organizations have also directed their attention to increasing accurate communication to local communities.
Hawaii also recently opened up immunization for educators and child care workers under Tier 1-B of the state’s vaccination plan. According to HPR, “18,200 education workers completed online forms saying they want to be vaccinated.”
Phyllis Unebasami, the Hawaii Department of Education Deputy Superintendent, emphasized that immunizing all school workers will allow students to return to the classroom safely. To ensure that anyone working with students will be protected, the state’s plan does not prioritize by job category, meaning that classroom teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and custodians alike will be immunized.
After this announcement, Parker’s faculty and staff were fortunate in receiving vaccines quickly. According to Mrs. Weigle, the vaccination process was incredibly smooth in Waimea.
“As soon as we were eligible, Mr. Dunn sent out a phone number for us to set up our appointments,” she said. “I called them on a Tuesday afternoon, and they booked it for Wednesday morning at 8:00am.”
“I thought it was pretty efficient considering how many people they had in and out.”
Because of this efficiency, some faculty and staff have already received their second dose of vaccines. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which are currently being distributed, are at least 94% effective at the second dose, which is promising for the school community.
Nevertheless, until vaccinations become available for the student population, maintaining social distancing, masking, and sanitizing is still important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within Parker’s community.