Maui County gets 2,000 doses of J&J vaccine
First shipment of newly authorized vaccine has arrived in Hawaii
The Maui News
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.
The recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a lower efficacy rate than the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines but only requires a single dose and can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for months. The state Department of Health said Wednesday that the vaccine “is highly effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.”
The DOH is inviting educators to be vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Friday. The department added that it will announce dates and locations where others will have access to the vaccine.
Maui County remains last in the state in the percentage of the total population vaccinated, with 12 percent receiving at least one dose. Kauai County continues to lead with 20.1 percent, followed by Honolulu County at 15.7 percent and Hawaii County at 14.4 percent.
Statewide, 371,343 vaccines have been administered, including 348,053 to the general public through the Vaccine Administration Management System and 23,290 through the federal pharmacy program.
The DOH announced Wednesday that the state is now offering vacccinations to people ages 70 and older starting Monday.
“We are excited to be ahead of schedule and pleased that we can now provide another layer of protection to this vulnerable population,” Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said.
Vaccination efforts so far have been focusing on health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff, frontline essential workers and kupuna 75 and older.
“We have vaccinated enough people in those groups that we are able to open eligibility to everyone 70 and above,” Char said. “We will closely monitor how quickly vaccines are used and may open to people age 65 and up and those in Phase 1c in a couple of weeks.”
On Monday, Maui Health announced that it was reopening first-dose appointments to residents in Phases 1a and 1b. A shortage of the vaccine in January forced Maui Health and the DOH’s Maui District Health Office to pause first-dose appointments. Maui Health has spent recent weeks vaccinating thousands of people whose appointments had to be rescheduled due to the shortage.
Weekly vaccine allotments to Hawaii have increased from about 40,000 doses a month ago to this week’s allotment of more than 67,000 doses, the DOH said Wednesday. The increase and the recent authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine accelerates Hawaii’s vaccination schedule, the DOH added.
“We must still wait our turn as our elders and frontline essential workers continue to be vaccinated, but we are thrilled others in our community will soon have access to these life-saving vaccines,” Char said.