News

Demand for COVID-19 Vaccine Declines

By Tiffany DeMasters
May 24, 2021, 6:33 PM HST
* Updated May 25, 1:00 PM
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Jaysha Anderson-Kaili was vaccinated with her children Alasha, 14 and Pika, 15, who attend Waiakea High, and Princess, 12, of Waiakea Intermediate School. (Courtesy of HMC) 

Kona Community Hospital’s final vaccination clinic for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the hospital will be Friday, May 28.

Second doses will be provided on June 17 at KCH. KCH wrapped up its weekly mass vaccine clinic at the Kona Aquatic Center Gym on May 20.

“The demand in the community has fallen off so sharply that it’s no longer feasible to pour resources and time into the clinics,” said KCH spokesperson Judy Donovan.

As of Monday, May 24, 52% of Hawai‘i County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the Department of Health. Approximately 66% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

“We still have so many people who need to be vaccinated,” Donovan said. “Doing it (vaccinations) in trickles isn’t feasible because we have to put our employees back to their original jobs.”

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Hilo Medical Center has also ended its mass clinics. In the five clinics the hospital hosted, HMC spokesperson Elena Cabatu said, 17,000 shots were administered.

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Cabatu also noted a decrease in demand for the vaccine in East Hawai‘i.

“Our appointments used to be scheduled two and a half to three weeks out and now we’re just a few days out,” she said.

However, the Arc of Hilo is still taking appointments. Cabatu said they still have adults coming in as well as parents coming in and getting vaccinated with their kids.

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“I’m not sure how long the clinic will continue,” Cabatu said of the Arc of Hilo operation. “We’re starting to talk about how to wind it down and what the indicators will be.”

Cabatu said rural clinics in Kea‘au and Ka‘ū are continuing to offer the vaccine. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available in Kea‘au and Moderna is being used at the Ka‘ū clinic.

Donovan said she thinks the COVID-19 vaccine will ultimately be handled in the doctor’s office, similar to how the flu shot is offered to patients.

While Donovan thinks the community is close to getting back to normal life, she notes “we’re not there yet.”

The vaccine is available and various locations. Click here to see where to obtain a vaccine.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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