Injections now available for kupuna 70-74

The state Department of Health on Wednesday announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered to those 70-74 beginning Monday.

Vaccines mostly have been reserved for health care workers, those in long-term care facilities, frontline essential workers and kupuna 75 and older.

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“We have vaccinated enough people in those groups that we are able to open eligibility to everyone 70 and above,” state Health Director Dr. Libby Char said in statement. “We will closely monitor how quickly vaccines are used and may open to people age 65 and up and those in Phase 1C in a couple of weeks.”

The state’s vaccination plan prioritizes distribution of vaccines in two phases.

The first phase has three components, with an emphasis on high-risk populations.

Phase 1A includes health care personnel and long-term care facility residents, while Phase 1B includes frontline essential workers, such as teachers, and adults 75 and older.

Adults 65-74, people 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, and essential workers not included in 1B can be vaccinated in Phase 1C.

Phase 2 will cover the rest of the population, which includes everyone 16 and older not included in previous categories.

According to the DOH, weekly vaccine allotments to Hawaii have increased from about 40,000 doses a month ago to this week’s allotment of more than 67,000 doses.

This increase and the recent emergency use authorization of the one-shot Johnson &Johnson vaccine accelerates the state’s vaccination schedule.

Hilo Medical Center has, for the last seven weeks, been working to vaccinate kupuna over 75 at its on-site vaccination clinic.

The hospital, however, will begin registering those 70 and older at the start of next week, in alignment with the DOH, hospital spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said.

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“This is welcome news and we’re excited to be able to move to this next age group.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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