Lt. Gov. Josh Green said that while Hawaii is not receiving as many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as he and others would like, the state is making steady progress in immunizing residents. So far, more than 106,000 people have received the coronavirus vaccine across the state, and he said that number could more than double in the next two to three weeks.
“We are doing really well, actually. And for every 100,000 individuals that we vaccinate, we’re gonna save somewhere between 450 and 1,200 lives, rather than letting a pandemic roll over our state,” Green told Spotlight Hawaii this morning.
The federal government notifies the state every Thursday about the number of doses it is eligible to receive. Green said Hawaii orders the maximum number of allocated doses, and that right now the state is receiving roughly 36,000 doses each week, though that has gone as high as 56,000. He said he was just notified that Moderna, which makes one of the two vaccines currently being administered in U.S., will be increasing their production by 30%.
“That’s really important because Moderna has been fundamentally valuable for our nursing facilities, for a lot of our outreach,” he said.
“I’m anticipating we will finish the 1A and 1B category sometime right toward the end of February, which is not that far off, that will be over 200,000 people fully immune. We’ll be aggressively going after the 1B and 1C categories in parallel. That 1C category includes 65 to 74-year olds, plus people with chronic disease.”
The Lt. Governor touted the work by Hawaii Pacific Health and Queens in setting up two large vaccine distribution centers on Oahu, and said that he is making sure that communities on the neighbor islands receive their fair share of doses.
Green also addressed concerns over so-called “vaccine tourism,” where visitors from other states travel to access the vaccine ahead of residents. He said that should not be happening in Hawaii, and he has not heard of that happening in significant numbers.
“There might have been a couple one-offs, but we don’t support that at all. I talked to the director of health directly about this,” Green said.
“We need to accumulate this immunity because we’re actually anticipating more travelers here in the spring and summer. So I want to get everyone protected with the vaccine that can be long in advance of that.”
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.