More than 500 front-line workers have received vaccination in West Hawaii

  • The first doses of the COVID vaccine were administered Dec. 23 at Kona Community Hospital. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

West Hawaii’s hospitals have vaccinated more than 500 people since Dec. 23.

As of Wednesday, Kona Community Hospital (KCH) had dispensed 327 doses of the vaccine to employees at the Kealakekua hospital as well as at Kohala Hospital, Alii Health Center and Kona Ambulatory Surgery Center. KCH also provided 19 vaccinations to Kohala Hospital long-term care residents on Tuesday.

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The hospital received 975 doses of the vaccine last week and began administering them to employees on Dec. 23, a day after Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea began inoculations.

KCH Director of Infection Prevention Lisa Downing said a large number of community providers have been signed up for the vaccine and are scheduling for future clinic dates. The hospital’s vaccination clinic has been able to administer about 20 doses of the vaccine per hour in the acute care module tent set up outside the facility’s emergency room.

“The CDC is requiring strict record-keeping, which can slow down the process slightly,” Downing said.

She said she has seen staff change their mind and decide to get the vaccine since the effort began.

“Everyday, more people are deciding to take the vaccine. More information and more individuals that get the vaccine encourage others that may be on the fence,” she said.

Downing said KCH has not seen any serious reactions to the vaccine, however, the hospital is prepared to rapidly assess and treat anyone that experiences any type of adverse reactions.

“Most of our recipients have reported nothing more than slightly sore arms at the injection site,” she said.

As of Tuesday, Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital had done 211 vaccinations. Of those, 182 were employees and 29 were community providers.

“We’re at almost half of our workforce so far,” said hospital spokesperson Lynn Scully. “And we have expanded to any community health care providers.”

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West Hawaii Community Health Center, a nonprofit that serves 25% of West Hawaii’s population from five locations is also working with KCH, the Department of Health and NHCH to vaccinate its front line employees.

“Many to most of our employees are interested in getting the vaccine in the early stages. We are in the very early stages of planning and coordination. We are working to have a group vaccinated next week,” said WHCHC Chief Operations Officer Victoria Hanes. “…We want to focus on our staff that have front-line direct patient care. We are encouraging all of our employees to get vaccinated but we are also supporting them in their decision making process. If they don’t get vaccinated now, we know there will be many future rounds.”

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