Kona Community Hospital preregistering Phase 2 individuals for vaccine

Kona Community Hospital has begun preregistering Phase 2 individuals age 50 and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine at its Thursday mega clinics held at Kekuaokalani Gymnasium in Kailua-Kona.

“Because of our population, we have moved through our kupuna age 65 and up,” said Judy Donovan, KCH marketing and strategic planning director. “We’ve moved through the majority of our essential workers. We are still working on them and have appointments set up through April.”

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The Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH), a hospital and health care facility trade organization, represented KCH and Hilo Medical Center in their request to widen the net of eligible individuals.

“We feel the need to continue moving so we argued our case through HAH and last Wednesday we were green-lighted to go to the next age group,” Donovan said.

Although smaller clinics held at the hospital are booked through April, KCH is planning on rolling into the next phase at their mass clinic the first week of April.

“Both Hilo and Kona are still prioritizing individuals 65 and older, individuals with high risk medical conditions as identified by the state Department of Health, and workers in hotels restaurants and bars,” said HAH president and CEO Hilton Raethel. “Both Hilo and Kona will contact individuals 50 and above who have preregistered when appointments become available.”

Raethel said Kauai is expected to move to the 60-plus age group, and those vaccinations are primarily arranged by Wilcox Medical Center, the district health office for the state Department of Health, and Kauai Veteran’s Memorial Hospital, which is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

“Different parts of the state are progressing through the vaccine priority stages at different speeds because of their different populations,” Raethel explained. “Some regions have more adults overall, and there are different proportions of healthcare workers, teachers, or other employees characterized as essential workers, but all regions are moving sequentially.”

Donovan said last Thursday’s mass clinic drew 1,464 individuals in groups 1a, 1b and 1c, including 480 people receiving their second dose. An additional 700 individuals were vaccinated at the hospital’s clinic in Kealakekua.

“We want to ensure that as we are rolling forward in our county in the coming weeks, we continue pull 1,000 plus people into the mass clinic,” Donovan said.

Donovan said the hospital’s call center is still experiencing heavy volume.

They have been working diligently to reach out to the resorts to vaccinate those essential workers. Many have already passed through the mass clinics.

To preregister, visit kch.hhsc.org/wp-content/uploads/50-Vaccine-Short-Form-Instructions.pdf or call (808) 322-4451.

West Hawaii Community Health Center is expected to start vaccinating individuals in Phase 2 at their April 2 walk in clinic at Kekuaokalani Gymnasium. Preregistration is not required, however vaccines will be given on a first come basis.

Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital continues to take appointments for Phase 1 tiers 1a, 1b and 1c. To request an appointment, email QNHCHVaccine@queens.org and include your name, date of birth, phone number, and employer if you are an essential worker.

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The Department of Health is not expanding vaccine eligibility yet and is still limiting appointments to those in tier 1c, which includes those age 65 and older, essential workers and those with high risk health conditions.

High risk is defined by the Department of Health as those age 16-64 with dialysis dependent end-stage renal disease, oxygen dependent respiratory disease, oxygen dependent cardiac disease and cancer or autoimmune disease undergoing active chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medication therapy at an infusion center.

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