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Oahu residents 16 and up get their turn for vaccines

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Monday marked the first day that people in Hawaii who are 16 or older could receive the vaccine. Tanner Teruya, 19, received a COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Pier 2 from his father, Tyler Teruya, who is an employee health nurse with Hawaii Pacific Health.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Monday marked the first day that people in Hawaii who are 16 or older could receive the vaccine. Tanner Teruya, 19, received a COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Pier 2 from his father, Tyler Teruya, who is an employee health nurse with Hawaii Pacific Health.

At long last, COVID-19 vaccination eligibility on Monday opened up to all Oahu residents age 16 and up, bringing the island to Phase 2 of its rollout and up to speed with Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties.

The neighbor isle counties, with smaller populations, had reached Phase 2 in early April. Statewide, all residents 16 and up are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

As soon as appointments became available, Tyler Teruya of Aiea booked appointments for his sons, Devin, 17, and Tanner, 19, on Monday afternoon at Hawaii Pacific Health’s Pier 2 vaccination site.

“I’m completely happy they got their shots, finally, because they’ve been socializing with all their friends and some of them have and some haven’t gotten vaccinated,” said dad Tyler, who booked appointments for them as soon as he could. “We still keep in mind that it is an experimental drug and it’s not 100% effective, so we need to take our precautions where we can, but this is another layer of protection.”

Tanner Teruya, who works as a photographer for Expressions, had been waiting to get vaccinated. The job involves interaction with many customers, and he works alongside many in the same age bracket.

After full vaccination, he looks forward mostly to reconnecting with friends.

“I think we’re all looking forward to hanging out with our friends again and for things to slowly get back to normal,” said Tanner, also a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Shidler College of Business. “I think this is a great first step to making that possible.”

His brother, Devin, a senior at Aiea High School, said he was nervous at first but relaxed once he got to the vaccination site.

“The shot itself was practically painless,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything. It was over quickly, and I said, ‘Oh, that was it?’”

He is looking forward to meeting with classmates again, since he has been in full distance-learning mode this entire school year, and getting back to studio hip-hop dance sessions once again.

While Tanner had a virtual, drive-by high school graduation during the pandemic last year, Devin is looking forward to attending a modified, in-person graduation ceremony in May.

With the current timeline, many of those ages 16 to 18 without an immediate appointment will still need to get a second dose three to four weeks after the first one, followed by another two weeks of waiting for their vaccines to take full effect, meaning that won’t occur until after most high school graduation ceremonies.

The state Department of Health continues to encourage all who are eligible to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Schedule your vaccine as soon as you can,” said Health Director Elizabeth Char in a news release. “We don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone immediately, but you can schedule your shot now. If you can’t get an appointment today, you’ll be able to get one in the near future.”

The state Health Department said the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for those under 18, while the Moderna vaccine is reserved for people 18 and above.

Hawaii Pacific Health said approximately 1,900 of its 11,000 scheduled appointments so far this week are for patients ages 16 and 17, who must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. As of Monday afternoon HPH had about 1,500 appointments remaining for Thursday through Saturday.

The seven-day average daily number of new cases, meanwhile, was at 83 on Monday, and the positivity rate at 1.6%, according to the Health Department.

On Monday the department reported 65 new coronavirus infections statewide, bringing the state’s total since the start of the pandemic to 31,446 cases. The death toll remained at 474.

New cases included 52 on Oahu, 10 on Maui, two on Hawaii island and one resident diagnosed out of state.

A total of 1,064,942 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Hawaii, based on preliminary numbers reported to the Health Department up to Sunday, up about 37,000 from Friday.

The department reports that about 44% of the state’s population age 18 and up has received at least one vaccine dose, and 31% has been fully vaccinated, not including federal data.

The Leeward Community College COVID-19 vaccination clinic, meanwhile, is administering the Moderna vaccine, with appointments available to Oahu residents ages 18 and up.

The clinic, conducted under a partnership between the City and County of Honolulu and the Health Department, is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and will run through May 13. Appointments are released as vaccines are secured.

An online appointment, however, must be scheduled in advance. Walk-ins are not allowed.

Patients who receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Leeward CC clinic will be able to schedule their second dose at Blaisdell Center.

The Queen’s Health Systems is also taking appointments for residents ages 16 and up at its Blaisdell Center and West Oahu clinics. The Blaisdell, which offers Pfizer or Moderna, depending on the day, is closed Tuesdays. The West Oahu clinic offers only the Pfizer vaccine and is closed Mondays.

WHERE TO GET A COVID-19 VACCINE

>> Hawaii Pacific Health takes appointments at HawaiiPacificHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine.

>> The Queen’s Health Systems takes appointments at covid.queens.org/vaccination or 691-2222.

>> To sign up for the LCC vaccination clinic, visit oneoahu.org/vaccine (18 and up).

>> For more options, visit hawaiicovid19.com/ vaccination-registration.

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