Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Vaccine Shipments Delayed by Winter Weather Will Still Arrive This Week

February 16, 2021, 4:11 PM HST
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PC: Chelsea Demello

Hawai‘i has been unable to dodge the icy grasp of severe weather across the mainland, despite thousands of miles between the islands and the source of frigid treachery.

While more than 150 million Americans have been under some form of winter weather advisory over the past few days — many of them forced to brave the dangerous and often unfamiliar conditions without power — the threat to Hawai‘i was related to commerce. Specifically, the winter storm made the regular delivery of the state’s expected coronavirus vaccines a dubious proposition.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green delivered good news Tuesday, telling Big Island Now that while there will be some delays, all the doses of Pfizer and Moderna the state planned to receive are set to arrive in time to meet vaccination schedules.

“People thought we weren’t receiving any doses because of the storm,” Green said. “We got 10K vaccinations from Pfizer today and another 10K will arrive in two or three days. All the Moderna vaccines are going to come most likely Thursday.”

Rescheduling vaccination appointments is likely, he added, but the state’s healthcare system is expected to be able to juggle the logistics effectively. Had the shipments been delayed further, greater concerns would have developed due to unfortunate timing.

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Hawai‘i is currently in a portion of the vaccination cycle during which many kūpuna are set to receive their second shots. Those come three and four weeks after the initial dose is administered, depending on which vaccine is used. While first shots can be easily postponed, residents need to receive their second shots within a specific window of time to assure peak effectiveness.

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COVID-19 infection rates are at their lowest since the summer of last year, with only 17 new cases reported statewide Tuesday. The Big Island has identified zero new cases each of the previous two days, the first such streak for the county in several months.

If cases remain low in spite of a potential Super Bowl-related surge, Green said much of the state’s focus will reside with the vaccine over testing and contact-tracing for at least the next three months.

A total of 47,700 doses have been added to Hawai‘i’s vaccine store this week. Another 50K are expected the week of Feb. 21, and 53K are scheduled to arrive during the week of Feb. 28.

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CVS Pharmacy, which was recently added to the list of coronavirus administrators in Hawai‘i, was set to receive 4,400 doses over a three week period. Green said that number has since tripled. The current CVS vaccination effort focuses on kūpuna exclusively.

Hawai‘i should be on the receiving end of an extra 20K vaccines weekly once the Johnson & Johnson formula is approved by the federal government. That is expected to happen during the first week of March.

To date, the state has administered nearly 262K doses of the vaccine. Green said those numbers will top 300K by this weekend and exceed 350K by the end of the month. He expects at least 250K more inoculations to be administered statewide throughout the course of March.

“It is going to accelerate quite a lot,” he said.

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