‘Massive amount’ of vaccine doses in the pipeline

Johnson & Johnson shot rolls out at Longs, UH-MC

Clinic Manager Azenith Ventura hands Keokea’s Bill Treu an appointment reminder to receive a COVID-19 vaccine next week on Friday afternoon at the Kaiser Permanente Kihei Clinic at Azeka Shopping Center. Treu said he read about the walk-up vaccination and registration clinic and drove down hoping to get a shot. The one-day walk-up event was so successful, drawing long lines of folks hoping to be vaccinated, he had to settle for an appointment. “I’m looking forward to the vaccine because I have a lot of grandkids,” Treu said. He said he was hoping to receive the one-shot dose from Johnson & Johnson. — The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Officials around Maui County are preparing for a big influx in COVID-19 vaccine availability toward the end of this month that could yield up to 20,000 doses administered per week.

“At the end of March they promise a massive amount of vaccine — all of them Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson,” Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said during the county news conference Friday evening.

“They have asked if we are prepared to give Maui altogether 15,000 a week; if you look at the numbers it might actually come out to 20,000 a week,” he added. “We can do it.”

About 4,000 to 5,000 shots are currently being administered per week on Maui at two main distribution sites, four major clinics and three mobile partners, Pang said.

The anticipated surge in doses comes after months of inconsistent supply in the vaccination rollout throughout the state and the nation. On Maui, the sole clinic for community appointments was forced to cancel 5,000 appointments in January due to short supply.

Meanwhile, Maui County residents have questioned why their vaccination rate appears lower than other Hawaii counties, which has spurred assurances from state and county officials that Maui is receiving its fair share of vaccines.

Local administrators are working on how each of the three brands of vaccines will be organized and allocated.

Hawaii received its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, with 5,900 doses delivered to Oahu, and Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties receiving 2,000 doses each.

Pang said the state Department of Health site at the University of Hawaii Maui College received the county’s 2,000 doses this week. Next week, more Johnson & Johnson doses are scheduled to arrive, but likely fewer than this week.

Some Johnson & Johnson doses will be administered at UH-MC, while others will be given to larger clinics and other partners, Pang said. Educators were invited Friday to UH-MC to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Pang said he is concerned about possible patient confusion if they have the option of two or three brands. Moderna and Pfizer require second doses, which must be given in a certain timeframe and must match the brand of the first dose.

“When someone says, ‘I want this one or that one,’ it’s not buffet time,” he said. “If it gets confusing, then mistakes can happen.”

County Managing Director Sandy Baz said Longs Drugs in Kahului will receive 2,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week for people in tiers 1a and 1b. Appointments are mandatory. For eligibility and to schedule an appointment, visit www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19vaccine.

Due to Maui’s increased positivity rate and number of clusters, the county has been promised additional doses and test kits from the state, Mayor Michael Victorino said Friday.

“I have been working behind the scenes with (Health Director) Libby (Char), the governor and the lieutenant governor,” Victorino said. “I want to announce that . . . (they) have agreed to give us additional doses because of what’s happening here on Maui, the larger numbers, the clusters and other things. They have said yes, they will give us more.”

The amount of additional doses and test kits has not been determined, Victorino said. He added that they should be coming in the next two to three weeks.

Baz during the news conference reassured residents that Maui County is receiving the appropriate number of vaccination doses.

The county has been “artificially low due to a data reporting lag” on the DOH website, he said. By Friday, 13.1 percent of Maui County residents received at least one dose.

“When they first started reporting it, we were at 8.5 percent,” Baz said. “The vaccines that have gotten into people’s arms are now getting into the system so they can be reported properly.”

Baz said Maui County has 11.7 percent of the state’s population older than age 16 who are eligible for vaccines. To date, Maui County has received 43,780 doses or 11.8 percent of the 371,343 doses received by the state.

“This data proves the vaccines have been allocated amongst the counties equitably,” he said. “Maui County has received all of its doses.”

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.


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