Health providers see decline in vaccine demand
Maui Health taking fewer first-dose patients, closes South Maui clinic
Maui medical providers continue to see declining numbers at their shot clinics with vaccines more widely available and many people already fully vaccinated.
The slowdown doesn’t surprise officials at Maui Health, which operates Maui Memorial Medical Center where the county’s largest vaccination clinic has been running steadily for around half a year now.
“We have seen a drop in numbers, but it isn’t that surprising as we believe we are reaching the point where most residents who want to be vaccinated and are eligible, have received their vaccine,” spokeswoman Tracy Dallarda said in an email Wednesday.
Currently about 70 percent of Maui Health’s vaccination clinic patients are coming in for their second doses versus 30 percent for their first doses, Dallarda said. Last month, about 300 to 500 people came to the hospital’s clinic daily for the vaccine; now it’s down to about 100 to 250 patients.
At the end of May, Maui Health also ended its vaccination clinic at the Grand Wailea Resort’s Haleakala Ballroom, where it expanded operations March 31 to accommodate the increase in vaccine supply and appointments for people in South Maui. Dallarda said the Wailea site was suspended because the need had declined. Those who received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine in South Maui may get their second dose at the hospital, she added.
Kaiser Permanente, too, has seen a decline in people wanting a shot as vaccination rates increase, spokeswoman Laura Lott said in an email Wednesday.
Kaiser’s Maui Lani Medical Office, which is offering all three vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — is seeing around 100 to 150 vaccinations a day, she said. The clinic has “seen the numbers trending down, but it fluctuates day to day,” so Lott said she could not give an average count.
Currently, 55 percent of the state is fully vaccinated, which includes federal doses, according to state Department of Health statistics as of Wednesday.
Both Maui and Hawaii counties have completed vaccinations for 47 percent of their total populations, while Honolulu County is at 48 percent and Kauai County tops the list with 53 percent, DOH data shows. County numbers do not include federal doses, such as those delivered to pharmacies and federal institutions, so percentages could be higher, DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr said.
While some people are still opposed to getting the shots, others may not have gotten vaccinated for a variety of reasons, Baehr said. Some may be busy, want more information about the vaccine or worry about future payments for the shot.
He said the Department of Health is available to provide outreach, education and access to folks who may be on the fence and need help to get a shot.
The vaccinations are safe and free, Baehr added, noting that most of the vaccination clinics take walk-ins, alleviating the need for internet access to make appointments online.
Local businesses have also started offering discounts and major prizes, such as trips to Las Vegas and airline miles, as an incentive to get people vaccinated through the statewide #HIGotVaccinated campaign. On Wednesday, contest organizers announced the first winners, a woman from Hilo who landed 100,000 HawaiianMiles, and a Honolulu man who won two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines.
“What a better time than now, when there are these incentives,” Baehr said.
Another round of winners will be selected on Friday.
Baehr said the campaign was launched at time when vaccinations were starting to lag, offering incentives for those not yet vaccinated and thanking those who have.
“People who have been vaccinated to this point are keeping us out of the hospital and is saving lives,” he added.
Officials at the DOH’s Maui District Health Office say they and other partners continue to push out mobile clinics across the island, including in Haiku and Kihei.
DOH’s latest data by ZIP code shows that Haiku has 35 percent or less of its population vaccinated, the lowest in the county, while Kihei has a rate between 35.1 to 45 percent, the second lowest in the county along with Kula, Makawao and Pukalani.
Health officials said demand for vaccines for all counties has dropped.
Overall in Maui County, Hana has the highest vaccination rate among its population with 70.1 percent or more vaccinated, followed by Lanai with 60.1 percent to 70 percent.
Molokai, Wailuku, Lahaina, Kahului and Puunene all have 45.1 to 60 percent of their respective communities’ population vaccinated.
Kaiser will hold a mass vaccination clinic from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at its Lahaina clinic and will be offering the Pfizer vaccine in hopes of immunizing more young people, Lott said. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for children 12 years and older. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine will also be provided, Lott said.
Appointments are preferable, but walk-ins will be accommodated. To contact the Kaiser Lahaina clinic, call 243-6000.
Kaiser also continues to have regular vaccination clinics.
Maui Memorial is also still taking scheduled appointments and walk-ins at its vaccination clinic. Hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
To encourage more vaccinations, there will be a special one-day Saturday clinic from 9 a.m. to noon June 26.
Dallarda said the hospital is encouraging its employees to bring their eligible children in for a vaccine as well.
For more information, visit mauihealth.org/covidvaccine.
A list of vaccination sites can also be found at mauinuistrong.info/vaccination-locations.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.