DOH not expanding vaccine eligibility yet, despite Civil Defense message

The state Department of Health will not expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to those 50 and older today, despite a message early Tuesday from Hawaii County Civil Defense that said the department would do so.

Cyrus Johnasen, Hawaii County public information officer, attributed the mix-up to “human error” and said the message was supposed to read Hilo Medical Center rather than DOH.

HMC on Monday opened early sign-ups for vaccine recipients 50 and older and will begin processing those applications today based on appointment availability at mass vaccination clinics planned for April 3 and April 24 at Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium in Hilo.

“There are still many people age 65 and older, people with qualifying medical conditions, and essential workers who are trying to make appointments,” said DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr in an email to the Tribune-Herald. “Hilo Medical Center assures us they are taking names of those age 50 to 64 for future scheduling.

“We are not expanding vaccine eligibility yet,” he said.

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