Vaccinations ramp up: 4,000 doses could be given at Hilo POD

  • Jude Oliver is tested for COVID-19 by S&G Labs during free testing Wednesday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. The number of people getting tested in Hilo has decreased over the past few weeks. At its peak, S&G was testing at least 300 people at each testing clinic, but that number is down to about 150. (Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

Hilo Medical Center will offer 4,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine during an upcoming mass-vaccination POD, doubling the capacity of its last large clinic.

The closed POD, or point of dispensing, will be held March 13 at the Edith Kanaka‘ole Multi-Purpose Stadium in Hilo.

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Second vaccine doses will administered to those who attended HMC’s first mass vaccination clinic on Feb. 20, HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said.

Nearly 2,000 people received vaccinations at that POD, which focused on providing inoculations to educators, school employees and other frontline essential workers, including postal workers, airline employees and those working at larger retailers.

Another 2,000 doses will be available March 13 for additional frontline workers in the Phase 1B category, as well as kupuna over 75 who can walk a mile or more and stand for 30 minutes.

“We saw great success in efficiency and organization in the first clinic, so we decided to ramp up (efforts), and it’s going to be a good day,” Cabatu said. “We look forward to it.”

Cabatu said for March 13 POD — which is by invitation only — the hospital is trying to reach employees at smaller retailers, car dealerships, repair shops and those who work in food service.

In addition to the mass vaccination POD, Hilo Medical Center continues to focus on inoculating kupuna 75 and older at its on-site vaccination clinic, although demand from that cohort is waning.

The hospital, however, will begin registering those 70 and older next week, a move that’s in alignment with an announcement from the state Department of Health Wednesday that vaccinations for the 70-plus group would begin Monday.

HMC has administered nearly 12,000 doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine since Dec. 23.

Cabatu said HMC now gives 300 vaccines a day and receives two trays of about 1,000 doses of doses per week.

The hospital clinic is better suited for seniors with mobility issues than the March 13 POD, Cabatu said.

As of Wednesday, more than 371,343 vaccines have been administered statewide, according to data from the DOH.

The state has ordered 597,730 doses and so far received 470,150.

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Approximately 14.4% of the Big Island’s population has received at least one dose.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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