COVID-19 variants or not, lucky you live Hawai‘i. That seems to be the consensus among state health officials keeping tabs on vaccine distribution, virus case counts and public attitudes toward getting immunized. “We’re doing well, and that’s a tribute to the entire community and the efforts of everyone wearing their masks and avoiding large gatherings,” said state Department of Health (DOH) director Dr. Libby Char in a Honolulu Star-Advertiser interview. So far, vaccine distribution at more than 100 sites statewide is under way, with systems ready to ramp up as the supply from the federal government increases. ”Instead of having three or four mega-centers where you have to queue up in long lines, DOH has worked hard to certify more locations, including neighborhood pharmacies and community health centers that can surge as needed when more doses arrive,” said Governor Ige. DOH has said the system could administer 80,000 vaccinations a week — double the doses currently being received.
Also working in Hawai‘i’s favor is a positive shift toward getting vaccinated as people across the state line up for their shots. A recent DOH poll showed that 91% of respondents plan to get vaccinated — 55% as soon as their turn comes up and 36% at a later time. Previous surveys in December showed that only about 50% of residents said they would accept the COVID-19 vaccine. “This is a positive change in a relatively short time,” said Dr. Char. “(People) are much more comfortable as they see family, friends, co-workers and others safely receiving their first and second doses.” This community willingness to be vaccinated, as well as following safety precautions, will become especially important as more transmissible strains of the virus begin to circulate. Acting state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble has said it might take 80% to 90% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity.” For updates, go to https://hawaiicovid19.com/.