COVID vaccine distribution begins in Hawai‘i

COVID-19 vaccine distribution began in Hawai‘i in December 2020 – Pixabay

by Kathleen Filiai, Special to Ka ‘Ohana

While the pandemic continues to rage, thousands of Hawai‘i residents have been vaccinated.

According to the state Department of Health Disease Outbreak Control Division’s website, more than 236,000 vaccines were distributed to clinics statewide from Dec. 13 to Feb. 12.

The state has an average of 53 new COVID cases daily, with Hawai‘i island averaging 3, O‘ahu with 38, Maui with 12 new cases and Kaua‘i with zero cases. 

O‘ahu is currently in Phase 1b, prioritizing vaccines to people 75 years and older and essential workers in health care and education.

Linda Filiai, a social worker who works with hospice patients, received her first shot of the vaccine on Jan. 5 at Windward Comprehensive Health Center and her second shot on Feb. 3.

“It was very busy, but it was very well run,” Filiai said about the day of her first shot. “There were different stations of people like check in, a place for people to fill out the forms, a place where they check your forms, then you move on to the shot room.” 

The nurses running the vaccination sites have to follow a protocol after one has been given a shot, Filiai said.

“They put a sticker on you, so they know what time you took the shot to track the 15 to 30 minutes to see if you had any reactions to the shot,” she said.

Filiai said she noticed people mainly in the ages 55 to 70 but that there were a couple of younger people, “maybe in their forties.” 

O‘ahu health care experts have expressed concerns about a potential shortage of the vaccines. In a Jan. 25 interview with Hawai‘i News Now, Hilton Raethel, president of the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i, said, “The reality is we don’t have enough to go around.” 

Filai said she’s not worried.

“It seems like we’re doing well compared to other states, but I’m more worried about the lack of vaccine nationwide,” she said.