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State prepares to vaccinate people 70 and older

Maui Memorial Medical Center still focusing on rescheduled first doses

The Maui News

Hawaii’s health director announced Friday that the state will soon open COVID-19 vaccinations to residents 70 and older, though availability still depends on shipments impacted by poor weather on the Mainland.

“We’re still in Phase 1b, and we’re not ready to go into Phase 1c yet,” Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char said in a news release. “But soon, we’d like to welcome those 70 and older to get vaccinated. We know we still have kupuna and frontline essential workers waiting to be vaccinated. We’ve been vaccinating kupuna since about mid-January, and so we’d like to add in 70 and older to keep the uptake of vaccine really brisk.”

The department will announce when sites are prepared to accept registration for the new age group.

Maui Health spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said Friday that Maui Memorial Medical Center is still focusing on first doses for people in Phases 1a and 1b whose appointments were cancelled during a vaccine shortage in January. She said this “doesn’t include any new appointments or anyone at the 70-year-old range.” The hospital’s ability to open for new appointments will depend on the vaccine supply.

“We received two trays of Pfizer this week, and we are hopeful that soon we will start to receive more,” Dallarda said. “If we do, then we can begin opening up to new appointments, but there is no confirmation on when that will be — I wish we knew for certain.”

As the state moves toward vaccinating residents 70 and older, Dallarda said the hospital “will watch their plans closely to determine what we will do.”

Winter weather on the Mainland has delayed some vaccine shipments to Hawaii, including 27,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine that were originally expected this week but stalled because of ice storms. DOH said Friday that it was awaiting news on when the shipments will resume and when Moderna will send the backlogged doses.

The state expects to receive more than 50,000 doses next week.

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