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State releases latest COVID vaccine plan

Shot expected to be available to all residents by summer

Hawaii health officials expect the COVID-19 vaccine to be available to all residents by the end of this summer once the top three priority groups are taken care of.

The state Department of Health released a summary of its updated vaccination plan on Friday detailing the two major phases of the rollout. The first phase includes three priority groups:

• Phase 1a: Health care personnel and long-term care facility residents, an estimated 6 percent of Hawaii’s total population.

• Phase 1b: Frontline essential workers and adults 75 years of age and older, about 20 percent of the population.

• Phase 1c: Adults ages 65 to 74 years, people ages 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers not included in Phase 1b, about 47 percent of the state’s population.

Phase 2 will cover the rest of the population, which includes everyone 16 and older who did not fall into the other categories. That phase is projected to begin in early summer 2021, depending on production and federal allocation of doses.

In each phase, the vaccines will be administered in order of age, with the oldest in each phase receiving first priority.

“Our plan prioritizes the vaccine for those who come into direct contact with the virus and those who are at higher risk for severe COVID-19 infections, and disability or death,” Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char said in a news release Friday. “The safe and orderly rollout ensures we operate efficiently to minimize waste of the dosages and to enhance patient safety.”

Based on the estimated number of people in each of the priority groups, 73 percent of Hawaii’s population will receive the vaccination by the completion of all of the categories in Phase 1. Phase 2 will cover the remaining 27 percent. However, Lt. Gov. Josh Green and other state officials have said in the past that the vaccine is not mandatory and that they realize that not everyone will want to take it.

Priority groups are based on updated guidance released in December by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

In October, the Health Department sent the CDC its initial draft vaccination plan, which included input from local, state and federal agencies as well as private-sector partners.

The updated plan includes a number of contingencies:

• Vaccinations may be redistributed if there are significant outbreaks or clusters.

• Priority groups may include others if deemed necessary to limit the spread of disease, morbidity or mortality.

• Vaccinations may be distributed to populations prioritized by disease activity in geographical location, disproportionately affected communities and health and socioeconomic vulnerabilities.

The Health Department said Friday that it had received 91,700 doses of the vaccine so far, including 54,600 from Pfizer-BioNTech and 37,100 from Moderna. Statewide, more than 35,000 vaccinations have been administered. First-dose vaccinations are complete at 22 long-term care facilities, where pharmacies are helping to immunize thousands of residents and employees.

Another 17,550 doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been ordered for delivery next week, and thousands more Moderna and Pfizer doses may be ordered over the weekend, also for delivery next week, the department said.

To view the full executive summary of the vaccination plan, visit hawaiicovid19.com/ wp-content/uploads/2021/01 /Executive-Summary_Final1_ 010721.pdf.

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