comscore Air Force C-17 delivers vaccinations to National Guard troops | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Air Force C-17 delivers vaccinations to National Guard troops

  • COURTESY GOV. DAVID IGE

    Gov. David Ige gives a Tuesday update on the state's plan for rolling out the coronavirus vaccinations.

  • SGT. JOHN SCHOEBEL / U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO
                                Hawaii National Guard members assigned to the Medical Detachment prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccines on a C-17 aircraft during Operation New Hope in Hilo on Tuesday. The operation was designed to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in a single day to National Guard members assisting the state with the novel coronavirus in each county.

    SGT. JOHN SCHOEBEL / U.S. ARMY NATIONAL GUARD PHOTO

    Hawaii National Guard members assigned to the Medical Detachment prepared to administer COVID-19 vaccines on a C-17 aircraft during Operation New Hope in Hilo on Tuesday. The operation was designed to provide COVID-19 vaccinations in a single day to National Guard members assisting the state with the novel coronavirus in each county.

Hundreds of Hawaii National Guard personnel with the joint task force responding to COVID-19 are getting vaccinated, with some on neighbor islands receiving the Pfizer vaccine Tuesday from the back of a C-17 cargo aircraft during a brief stop.

“These are all people who were activated to support the state” coronavirus effort, said Hawaii Guard spokesman Jeff Hickman.

The C-17 out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam — also crewed by Hawaii Guard members — stopped on Hawaii island, Kauai and Maui on Tuesday with medical teams on board to vaccinate those among the 150 to 200 joint task force members on each of the neighbor islands.

“They stop the plane. They don’t even turn off the engines, and then they crank out the 150 to 200 (vaccinations) per island,” Hickman said. “They come on, get their vaccination and they do their waiting period back in one of the buildings at the airfield. And then the plane closes back up and goes to the next location.”

Approximately 800 Hawaii Guard members remain on active duty to help the state with COVID-19 efforts. Hawaii Army and Air National Guard medics flew on the C-17 to provide inoculations.

“They are only giving the vaccinations to Guardsmen, but I guess there are plans in the future for them to assist the (state) Department of Health with vaccinating civilians,” Hickman said. “So this is not really a practice run, but I guess this is the first chance they get giving the vaccine before they help civilians.”

Hickman said there’s “no word yet” on when that will happen. “Right now things are still being planned.”

The majority of the joint task force citizen soldiers — about 350 — are on Oahu. Some have received the vaccine, with more inoculations scheduled for today, Hickman said. Hawaii National Guard leadership also will get the vaccine.

Task force personnel have been providing temperature screening at airports around the state, supporting the mass testing efforts in each county and assisting health agencies in education efforts. Tuesday’s effort represented the first round of vaccinations for the neighbor islands task force personnel.

Tripler Army Medical Center, the military distribution point for the Pfizer vaccine in Hawaii, received an initial limited quantity of the vaccine Dec. 15.

The medical center has since received additional shipments, said spokeswoman Mackenzie Walsh. This week Tripler is starting to administer second doses of the Pfizer vaccine to front-line health care providers.

“There has been no shortage of volunteers to receive the vaccine as (it is) being distributed and administered across several branches” to include the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard, Walsh said.

Allocation decisions are made by accounting for unique supply chain considerations, including the need for ultracold bulk storage capabilities for the Pfizer vaccine.

The Defense Department said Tuesday that 19.1 million doses of vaccine have been delivered to the American people over the past 21 days.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up