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Deadly winter weather delays COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Hawaii

Efforts to further curtail the spread of the virus in Hawaii hit a snag this week, as state health officials reported that a record-breaking winter storm on the mainland that left millions without power and resulted in at least 20 deaths had delayed some shipments of COVID-19 vaccines to the islands.

Uncertainty about vaccine delivery has caused two of the biggest vaccination clinics to adjust their schedules and some appointments may be rescheduled, officials said.

The Department of Health said 10 trays containing 9,750 doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived today as scheduled but delivery of 14,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine did not make it.

Hawaii is dependent on weekly vaccine shipments from the federal government and was expecting delivery of 42,800 doses this week plus 4,400 doses to be delivered directly to CVS Health/Longs Drugs, officials said. It’s unclear how the bad weather may impact additional shipments later this week.

The DOH releases its official weekly report of vaccinations on Wednesdays, but today’s preliminary tally showed 261,950 doses had been administered across the islands.

Uncertainty about vaccine delivery is affecting Hawaii’s two largest vaccination clinics, and some appointments may be rescheduled, officials said.

Hawai‘i Pacific Health, which is operating a mass vaccination center at Pier 2, said no more appointments for initial doses will be scheduled until a vaccine supply is assured. The health care system had administered a total of nearly 55,000 vaccinations at all its Oahu sites as of Monday.

The Queen’s Health Systems also is reducing is vaccination schedules. Queen’s had already administered a total of 54,310 doses at its two mass vaccination clinics at the Blaisdell Concert Hall and The Queen’s Conference Center at Punchbowl, and at sites in West Oahu, Molokai and Hawaii island, with 19,731 appointments scheduled.

“We would love nothing more than to be able to provide 4,000 doses or more each day,” Jason Chang, president of The Queen’s Medical Center, said in a statement today. “As we wait for additional shipments to arrive, we are making adjustments based on availability of doses and to ensure we are operating efficiently.”

No appointments are being canceled at this time at the Punchbowl site. At the Blaisdell clinic, kupuna who had first-dose appointments this week will be rescheduled to Saturday, when they will join those who are scheduled to return that day for their second dose, Queen’s said.

“For our caregivers, who want to continue inoculating members of our community and building that layer of protection, any slowdown is heartbreaking. Our teams are anxious to move forward with mass vaccination as soon as we can get more doses in hand. We continue to closely monitor our vaccine supply and eagerly await deliveries from the mainland so we can increase our scheduling,” Chang said.

Anyone with questions about vaccine scheduling may call the Queen’s Vaccination Line at 691-2222.

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