Maui Health plans to ramp up vaccine appointments

Hospital nearly finished with rescheduled first-dose patients

University of Hawaii Maui College graduate nurse Jaime Ferreira asks Helen Nelson a few health screening questions before administering a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday afternoon at the Maui Health satellite clinic in the Kaiser Permanente Kihei Clinic at Azeka Shopping Center. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

With the arrival of extra vaccines, increased capacity at a new clinic and rescheduled appointments nearly completed, Maui Health is looking to ramp up new first-dose appointments to 3,000 next week and 4,000 the week after.

Spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said that Maui Health is finishing “the last batch of about 1,000” of the 5,000 people whose appointments had to be rescheduled after clinics closed in January due to a shortage of the vaccine.

Maui Health opened a satellite vaccine clinic Wednesday at the Kaiser Permanente facility in Kihei that will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays by appointment only. The clinic has 500 doses of Moderna and plans to use them over the next two weeks — 200 appointments this week and 300 appointments the next.

Maui Memorial Medical Center will redirect some Pfizer doses to the Kihei clinic while it awaits another delivery of Moderna to use as second doses.

“What we’re trying to do is really ramp up the number of appointments that we can take,” Dallarda explained.

UH-Maui graduate nurse Jaime Ferreira draws a dose of the Moderna vaccine. Wednesday was the first day the clinic was open and 100 doses were scheduled to be given. Maui Health spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said the clinic planned to give another 100 doses Friday, followed by 300 doses next week. The clinic is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays by appointment only.

Starting this weekend, Maui Health will reopen the online Vaccine Administration Management System portal, or VAMS, to allow people already registered in the system to schedule their first-dose appointment.

Early next week, Maui Health will make a vaccine health record form available on its website so Phase 1a and 1b qualified residents can request an appointment. After the form is completed and submitted, Maui Health will input the person’s information into VAMS, allowing the person to then complete the registration process and secure an appointment.

Phase 1a includes health care personnel and long-term care facility residents and staff, while Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers and adults 75 years of age and older.

Maui Health, which oversees Maui Memorial, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital, has vaccinated more than 12,000 residents in Phases 1a and 1b, including nearly 80 percent of its employees.

Maui Health has been receiving an average of two trays a week of the Pfizer vaccine, with 975 doses per tray. This week, Maui Health received an extra tray “that has increased our vaccine availability tremendously.” The hospital operator said Wednesday that it aims to increase vaccine administration to 3,000 first doses (600 appointments per day) next week and 4,000 the following week (800 appointments per day) at Maui Memorial.

“We have assurances from the Department of Health that we will have ample vaccine supply to continue our vaccination efforts for both first and second doses,” Maui Health said.

For more information on how to register and on Phase 1a and 1b qualifications, visit www.mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.

Maui County is currently last in the state in the percentage of the total population vaccinated, with 9.1 percent receiving at least one dose, according to state Department of Health data as of Wednesday. Kauai County leads the state with 18 percent of the population receiving at least one dose, followed by Honolulu County at 14.6 percent and Hawaii County at 12.7 percent.

Statewide, 13.9 percent of the population has received at least one dose.

“From what we are told, the number of vaccines coming into Maui County is in relation to our population,” Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz said during the county’s news conference on Wednesday. “They are working on getting those vaccines into people’s arms . . . very diligently working with Department of Health, Maui Health System, a lot of now the community providers are out there doing vaccinations, especially the hard-to-reach people.

“We are getting them vaccinated as quick as possible, but I don’t have a direct answer to why the number is low.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said during a virtual town hall on Tuesday night that there were about 10,000 to 12,000 undercounted doses in Maui County, and that if these were added to the tally, Maui County would be on par with Hawaii County.

Dallarda explained that the undercounted doses are because some clinics are using automated reporting while others are using a manual process. She said that Maui Health is the only one on the island using VAMS, which is where the Health Department pulls its vaccine data from.

“We are fully automated, so every vaccination we give, first or second dose, is registered automatically in the system,” she explained.

The Health Department’s clinic at the University of Hawaii Maui College is using paper forms and must manually enter the administered doses, Dallarda said.

Bridget Velasco, public health planner with the Maui District Health Office, explained that the office had run into some problems with VAMS, including an issue in January that led hundreds more people than expected to show up at the clinic at the college. Instead, they switched to a paper-based process.

“We don’t input the information on site while we’re doing the vaccination administration. We do it after,” Velasco said.

She added that the district office also gives doses out to local providers like Maui Medical Group and Hui No Ke Ola Pono and has to wait for them to report back before inputting the totals into the system.

Velasco agreed that undercounting is the cause of Maui County’s lagging vaccination tallies, not the shortage that forced both Maui Health and the district office to close to new appointments in January. She said that everyone statewide was impacted by the shortage.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@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