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Molokai moves to next phase of COVID-19 vaccines

Hospital is offering doses to people 65 and older, ahead of state

Molokai General Hospital began its first community clinic for COVID-19 vaccinations this week and has already offered shots to those in a tier ahead of the statewide curve.

“Late this morning we moved to include 1c, which includes people ages 65 and over,” said Jan Kalanihuia, president of Molokai General Hospital, in an email Friday afternoon.

The state Department of Health reports on its website that the state is in the Phase 1b stage of vaccine distribution, which is for essential workers and adults 75 years or older.

Since the clinic began Thursday, Molokai General has administered 410 shots, many to kupuna, Kalanihuia said. The clinic started out with Phase 1a, which includes health care personnel, and Phase 1b.

“Right now, we are focused on giving as many vaccinations as we can with safety being our highest priority,” she added.

Hospital employee vaccinations began Dec. 23.

On Maui, only second doses are being administered due to the lack of vaccine. When asked if Molokai General would have enough vaccines given shortages elsewhere, Kalanihuia said, “We have been working very closely with our health system partner, The Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu, to obtain as many doses of the vaccine as we can. We understand that the supply chain of receiving the vaccine can be unpredictable so we are closely monitoring the situation.”

The number of vaccines allocated to Molokai General Hospital was not immediately available Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is operated by Maui Health, received one tray of 975 Pfizer doses on Tuesday and another on Thursday, which were dedicated to second dose vaccinations and a few remaining first dose vaccinations for frontline workers, spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said Friday.

The hospital is working on providing second doses to Phase 1a and 1b individuals who were vaccinated during the first round, she said.

Last week, the hospital announced it would temporarily close to new reservations due to lack of supply, and that no new first doses would be given through Feb. 7.

However, those who got their first Pfizer dose have been contacted by Maui Health with instructions on how to receive their second dose, Dallarda said. Most have appointments already scheduled, she added.

The Maui Health vaccination clinic is currently not a selection choice on the Vaccine Administration Management System website and has postponed appointments until it receives ample vaccines to administer both first and second doses, Dallarda said.

If patients have additional questions on accessing their second doses, they can contact the Maui Health hotline at 242-2273 or email MH-COVID-Vaccine@kp.org.

Dallarda also reminded the public that the hospital is not taking any first dose vaccination walk-ins, including standby walk-ins at the end of the clinic.

The Maui District Health Office also said it is reaching out to people who need a second dose of the Moderna vaccine, said Bridget Velasco, public health planner.

The office contacts people via email at least 48 hours before their clinic date. Email instructions include updated forms and an appointment time. If the patient does not have email, they are given a phone call, she said.

DOH’s clinic is still at the University of Hawaii Maui College, but no walk-ins are being taken, Velasco said. People will be turned away if their name is not on DOH’s roster, she added.

For those concerned about getting their second Moderna dose on time, Velasco said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that the recommended window for the Moderna second shot is 28 to 32 days post-first dose.

The Health Department is scheduling patients on the 28th day.

“But the literature indicates the window to get that 2nd shot can be extended out, and people should still get that second dose even if it is outside that window,” Velasco said via email. “I hope this alleviates any anxiety about this.”

Velasco also noted that clusters at apartment complexes in Maui County include the ongoing outbreak at Harbor Lights as well as a new cluster at Luana Gardens in Kahului. The state’s cluster report, which is released every Thursday, indicated three clusters of 25 cases linked to the construction and industrial field, and four clusters connected to 122 cases in apartment complexes over the last two weeks.

Velasco did not have specific case counts late Friday afternoon but said there is “ongoing transmission” at Luana Gardens and “residual” cases at Harbor Lights, which has seen about 100 COVID-19 cases since late December.

Efforts are ongoing to keep cases contained, Velasco said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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