COVID-19 vaccines to be administered at jail

Winter weather delays vaccines to Maui, but clinics unaffected

COVID-19 vaccinations will start at Maui Community Correctional Center next week as the jail deals with its first outbreak of the pandemic. MCCC currently has 18 active cases after two inmates recovered from the virus. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Maui Community Correctional Center inmates will be vaccinated against COVID-19 starting next week amid efforts to tamp down an outbreak at the jail, the state Department of Health said Wednesday.

The vaccine will go to inmates who request it, about 60 percent of the population, said Bridget Velasco, a planner with the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Maui District Health Office.

Jail staff have already received their vaccines, she said.

While facilities on Oahu have dealt with extensive outbreaks, MCCC hadn’t seen any cases throughout the pandemic until this month. As of last week, there were 20 inmates infected with COVID-19. Two inmates have since recovered, with 18 currently active cases, the DOH said. No jail staff members have tested positive.

On Wednesday, one negative inmate test result was reported.

While bad winter weather delayed a delivery of more than 37,000 vaccines to Hawaii, Maui’s main clinics still have enough doses to remain open, hospital and state health officials said. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

There were 296 inmates housed at MCCC as of Monday, according to a state Department of Public Safety weekly population report. The jail has a design capacity of 209 inmates and a operating capacity of 301 inmates.

Vaccination efforts are also continuing at the hospital and the college despite bad winter weather on the Mainland that has delayed thousands of COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Maui and the rest of the state. DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Wednesday that the majority of Maui’s vaccine clinics will not be affected this week. This includes the Maui District Health Office’s clinic at the University of Hawaii Maui College, the clinic at Maui Memorial Medical Center and other smaller clinic settings.

However, Okubo was not sure about private pharmacies such as CVS/Longs. According to CVS’ online vaccine reservation system, all of its Hawaii appointment times were booked as of Wednesday afternoon.

So far this week, 37,450 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines on their way to the islands have been delayed due to the weather, according to DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr. Of that total, 4,400 doses of Moderna vaccines were scheduled to be delivered directly to CVS/Longs.

Baehr said that of the 37,450 delayed doses, 2,675 were scheduled for Maui this week, including 1,700 Moderna vaccines and 975 Pfizer vaccines.

However, there have been successful deliveries this week as well, including a shipment of 975 Pfizer doses that made it to Maui, Baehr said.

Statewide, there have been 10,250 total vaccine deliveries to Hawaii this week, with 9,750 from Pfizer and 500 from Moderna.

“It is unclear how the weather may impact shipments for later this week,” Baehr said.

Some vaccine appointments across the state are being rescheduled because of the delays, he added.

On Wednesday, the UHMC clinic was able to administer 450 shots, Velasco said, adding that the Maui District Health Office has enough vaccines to last through early next week. The vaccines will go toward the mobile pods that include the jail and congregate elderly living settings.

The office estimated that this week’s delayed doses will arrive on Maui between Saturday and Feb. 22.

Maui Health spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said Maui Memorial did receive both of its expected trays of the Pfizer vaccine this week.

“So no shipment delays for Maui Health at this time,” she said Wednesday afternoon. Each week the hospital receives two trays of the Pfizer vaccines, with 975 doses per tray.

Dallarda said the hospital is continuing with first dose appointments that needed to be rescheduled last month when there was a vaccine shortage. The hospital is communicating directly with those patients.

Maui Health, which operates Maui Memorial, is also opening up a satellite clinic at the Kaiser Kihei Clinic at 1279 S. Kihei Road, Suite 120, beginning Feb. 24.

It will be open Wednesdays and Fridays only and will administer the Moderna vaccine, but only for first dose rescheduled individuals who have been contacted directly. There will be no walk-ins or standbys, Dallarda said.

“We are grateful to our Kaiser partners in allowing us to use their clinic space to provide a convenient location for our south side island residents,” she said.

Dallarda added that Maui Health has “thousands more” to vaccinate before they can open up appointments to new first doses for individuals within Phase 1b, which is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as persons 75 years and older and frontline essential workers.

For updates, visit mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.

As of Wednesday, the state Department of Health said there have been 268,428 vaccines administered in the state.

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


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today