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Efforts increase in Hawaii to get more COVID-19 shots in arms

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Elina Kanaka‘ole received her shot from Dr. Monica Mau.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Elina Kanaka‘ole received her shot from Dr. Monica Mau.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic was held Thursday at the Towers at Kuhio Park in Kalihi with health care workers from Kaiser Permanente. Above, rows of tents were set up for patients to sit under after they received their vaccine.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic was held Thursday at the Towers at Kuhio Park in Kalihi with health care workers from Kaiser Permanente. Above, rows of tents were set up for patients to sit under after they received their vaccine.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Volunteer Ilima De La Cruz admitted patients Thursday at the COVID-19 vaccination pop-up site at the Towers at Kuhio Park in Kalihi.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Volunteer Ilima De La Cruz admitted patients Thursday at the COVID-19 vaccination pop-up site at the Towers at Kuhio Park in Kalihi.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Registered nurse Kimberly Gibu prepared the vaccine.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Registered nurse Kimberly Gibu prepared the vaccine.

If you haven’t gotten your COVID-19 vaccination yet, there may be a convenient walk-in clinic coming to your neighborhood soon.

The community responded well Thursday to the state Department of Health’s resumption of the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a nationwide pause by federal agencies. At the Windward Community College vaccination clinic, 365 people got their one-dose shot, some by appointment and some walk-ins. And Minit Medical filled 300 appointments for the J&J vaccine in Kahului.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority teamed up with other governmental agencies, along with private-sector and nonprofit partners, to focus on vulnerable, hard-to-reach populations.

On Thursday, Kaiser Permanente administered the Pfizer vaccine at a free walk-in, pop-up clinic held for residents and the community at the Towers at Kuhio Park in Kalihi.

About 500 doses were available.

Those 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine. However, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for anyone under age 18.

No health insurance is necessary.

Elina Kanaka‘ole was one of the first in line at the Kalihi site, having been waiting for a vaccine but never having had the time to get one.

Kanaka‘ole, 33, and a working mother of four, said this finally provided her with the opportunity. With children ages 3 months, 2, 3 and 7, and a nightly job, it was hard to make it to one of the vaccination centers in town.

She was able to make it after dropping off kids at Head Start and school, and with her parents watching the baby.

“This is so much more convenient,” she said. “I don’t have to haul all of my children with me. It’s hard to find the time or a babysitter.”

Kanaka‘ole said she wanted to get the vaccine — once she got clearance from her doctor because she is breastfeeding her baby — to keep her parents and family safe. They live in close quarters, and kids often play with one another in the community.

After receiving the shot, Kanaka‘ole said she felt relieved.

HPHA Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we started with door-to-door outreach, education and testing, and now we are continuing our collaborative effort to provide safe and convenient COVID-19 vaccination clinics on-site for our public housing communities, our surrounding neighbors and the general public.

“We are truly thankful to collaborate with all of our community partners to bring COVID-19 vaccination clinics directly to the most vulnerable populations that we serve.”

Upcoming clinics will be held 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Waianae Protestant Church and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at Kamehameha Homes.

And Hawaii Pacific Health will expand its walk-in hours May 3-8 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments will continue to be available for scheduling from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with 2,000 appointments a day. To schedule online, go to HawaiiPacificHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine.

Walk-ins are for first vaccinations only.

While Oahu residents 16 and older are eligible, they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The J&J vaccine will be available at the WCC walk-in clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until May 13.

Minit Medical will continue vaccination clinics with the J&J vaccine in Kahului at the War Memorial Gym today and another Saturday in Makawao at the Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put an 11-day pause on the J&J vaccine’s use to examine the risk of blood clots in people who had received it.

The pause was lifted April 12 after determining the vaccine was safe and effective in preventing COVID-19, and with very low risk, and the benefits of being vaccinated far outweigh any risk, the Health Department said.

The pause came after six women vaccinated with the J&J vaccine in the U.S. had gotten a rare blood clot with low platelets. That rate was 7 per 1 million vaccinated women between the ages of 18 and 49, the CDC said. The incidence among women 50 years and older and men of all ages is even lower.

Women younger than 50 should be aware of the increased risk of this rare blood clot, the CDC says.

Anyone receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should seek immediate medical care if they see symptoms within 13 days of getting it. They include severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain and easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site.

As of Tuesday, 1,191,481 vaccines have been administered statewide.

State health officials said Thursday one new coronavirus-related death was that of a Kauai woman in her 70s who had underlying health conditions when she was hospitalized with COVID-19.

Also, the Health Department reported 122 more infections statewide, bringing the state’s totals since the start of the pandemic to 483 fatalities and 32,232 cases.

The U.S. coronavirus-related death toll Thursday was more than 574,000, and the nationwide infection tally was over 32.3 million.

Thursday’s new statewide infection cases include 79 on Oahu, six on Kauai, 26 on Maui, four on Hawaii island and seven Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state, according to health officials.

Hawaii has 1,116 active cases. Oahu has 826 active cases; Maui, 187; Hawaii island, 69; Kauai, 32; Molokai has two; and Lanai has none.

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