Hawaii plans to operate mass vaccination centers on Oahu

HONOLULU (AP) — Thousands of Hawaii residents are expected to have access to COVID-19 vaccines when the state opens mass vaccination centers on Oahu, officials said.

The state plans to begin providing vaccinations beginning Monday at Honolulu’s Pier 2 in partnership with Hawaii Pacific Health.

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Hawaii Pacific Health is the parent of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women &Children, Straub Medical Center, Pali Momi Medical Center and Wilcox Medical Center on Kauai.

Ray Vara, the CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health, told a news conference Wednesday his organization aims to start off by vaccinating 1,000 people per day and then ramp up to 3,000 to 4,000 daily.

The Queen’s Medical Center announced plans to operate a second large-scale vaccination clinic in the final week of January at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. Queen’s Health Systems CEO Dr. Jill Hoggard Green said they aim to vaccinate a similar number.

Health officials hope to administer up to 100,000 vaccine shots this month and up to 150,000 doses monthly in February, March, April and May, Democratic Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.

Currently, vaccinations are being offered to people over the age of 75 and front-line essential workers like corrections officers, teachers and postal workers. Vara said people may schedule an appointment online and that 1,000 people have already signed up.

There were 26,000 vaccine doses administered in Hawaii in December. As of Monday, nearly 39,000 residents had been vaccinated and 109,250 doses were delivered by drug makers Pfizer and Moderna. The Hawaii Department of Health said tens of thousands of additional vaccine doses are expected to ship this week.

Queen’s Medical Center President Jason Chang said online registration for the planned centers should make the process fast and efficient.

“Ideally, you’d like to get through more people, but we want to be safe and cautious to start,” Chang said.

The health department reported 172 new corona­virus infections on Monday, bringing Hawaii’s total since the start of the pandemic to 23,513 cases.

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On Thursday the state set a record for the new year with 322 newly confirmed cases. The figure was the highest since August, when infections spiked to 355.

The new surge is attributed primarily to holiday gatherings, Green said.

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