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More doses of coronavirus vaccines arrive in Hawaii, many slated for neighbor islands

                                Syringes of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are seen on a table on Dec. 15 at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
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Syringes of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are seen on a table on Dec. 15 at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.

Hawaii received nearly 30,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today, as neighbor island hospitals began immunizing health care workers.

The first 12,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in the islands — 6,000 designated for Oahu and 2,000 each for the counties of Maui, Hawaii and Kauai, according to the Department of Health. Pfizer sent 16,575 doses in addition to 4,825 that arrived last week on Oahu.

Wilcox Medical Center reported its first shipment from Pfizer of 1,950 doses, which it will begin administering to front-line workers at the hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic this afternoon and early next week.

Hawaii Pacific Health, which owns Wilcox, said it already has administered the first shots to 2,230 health care workers at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Pali Momi Medical Center, Straub Medical Center and Hawaii Pacific Health Medical Group on Oahu. The Queen’s Medical Center said about 800 people have taken the vaccine at its Punchbowl campus and 110 at West Oahu.

Kona Community Hospital confirmed two direct shipments today from Pfizer and Moderna, with 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine designated for West Hawaii region employees at the Kona facility, as well as Kohala Hospital, the Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center and Alii Health Center. Maui Health, which operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, also received 975 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The hospitals will open vaccine clinics on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, CVS Health, the parent company of Longs Drugs, said it will begin next Monday immunizing more than 8,600 patients and staff at over 40 long-term care facilities in Hawaii.

CVS has hired 20 pharmacists and more than 30 technicians to administer the vaccine over the next three months and will continue to ramp up staffing as more doses are distributed, said Scott Sutton, regional director for CVS/Longs Drugs.

“There’s a lot of celebration around the country and CVS here with the first doses administered,” he said. CVS began immunizations today at long-term care facilities in 12 mainland states. “CVS is very proud to help bring people back to some sort of normalcy and bring back hugs. With the year we’ve had … (we) can’t be more happy to have our pharmacists and technicians be there first to help our patients get back on the path to better health.”

Hawaii health officials reported 134 new coronavirus infections statewide — the fifth straight day of triple-digit counts — bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 20,351 cases. The state’s official COVID-19 death toll remains at 282 with no new deaths reported.

Of the state’s total infection count, 1,688 cases are considered to be active. But many of the new cases on Oahu have been from an outbreak within the Halawa Correctional Facility. Oahu recorded 104 new infections, but subtracting inmate infections, the island would have had 49 new cases, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said at a news conference today. Oahu inmate cases will be subtracted from seven-day average case counts beginning Thursday to avoid snapping back to the more-restrictive Tier 1 of the city’s economic reopening plan.

“The greatest impact of this vaccine occurs if we keep our viral load down in our population,” Caldwell said. “Let’s keep these numbers down so that as the vaccine rolls out … we make the best possible use of this time by keeping our numbers low, getting people vaccinated and seeing the impact of that vaccine.”

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