Lt. Gov. Josh Green anticipates Hawaii will reach the one million COVID-19 vaccine dose mark by week’s end.
With 954,594 doses administered by the state, Department of Defense and pharmacies, Green said Monday he expects the number of doses in arms to surpass one million two weeks before initially thought when vaccines began being administered in the Aloha State back in December.
“We’re exceeding the calendar expectations I had,” Green said Monday during a Spotlight Hawaii livestream with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “I had pegged us to get to a million doses by, I think it was May 1. We’re going to instead get there by about April 16 or April 17. So that accelerates everything, and the more doses we get into people, the faster we’ll see drop a off of cases and hospitalizations and so on.”
Hawaii expects to receive about 76,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines this week, followed by about 69,000 the following week for a total of about 145,000 doses coming in to the Aloha State. The two-week figure is about 10,000 less than expected due to a manufacturing snafu experienced by Johnson &Johnson that resulted in 15 million doses being destroyed.
“I don’t think they are going to catch up for three or four weeks,” he said.
Despite receiving only about 85% of the number of Johnson &Johnson vaccines expected in the coming weeks, Green said the pace of vaccination should pick up over the next couple of weeks as vaccinations open to more of the population.
On Monday, Oahu began vaccinating residents age 50 and older, and will open vaccines to all on April 19, he said. The Big Island began vaccinating persons age 16 and older with Pfizer and those 18 and older with Moderna and Johnson &Johnson at the start of April.
“There will be some bottleneck, but we have given four and a half, five months to our kupuna to get vaccinated with lots of support,” Green said about concerns of demand exceeding vaccine slots.
He urged people to be patient if they don’t get in right away. He also suggested they consider getting vaccinated at a pharmacy, like CVS, KTA Super Stores or Walgreens.
“One way or another, we will get you vaccinated,” Green said, noting that by May 1 the state will be close to 1.2 million vaccines administered and by June 1 close to 1.6 million doses. “We will be all but done mid-June at this rate — it continues to move up calendar wise. And by July 4, we will have likely achieved herd immunity, with the exception, of course, of our adolescence are only now getting approved to start getting the shots.”
He urged those who remain “vaccine hesitant” to consider the shot, noting vaccination could allow for inter-island travel by May 1, and possibly trans-Pacific travel without testing. An estimated 75% of the 1.415 million person population is expected to get the vaccine.
“It takes a lot for some people to get over their hesitancy because this thing came to us over the course of just about eight months, and some people feel that COVID is not that severe, but try telling that to any number of families who lost a loved one. Individuals did pass away from COVID, including a dear friend of mine who was 51. So it’s not just very, very old people, it could be others. All of these things are for their consideration,” Green said. “I personally respect anyone whether they choose to be vaccinated or not, they have to make that choice for themselves, and the same will be true of their adolescent children.”
Meanwhile Monday, five new COVID-19 cases were reported on the Big Island, bringing the total case count to 2,584.
Statewide, 70 new cases were reported Monday by the Department of Health. Oahu reported 48 of those cases, Maui County 15 and Kauai reported no new cases. Four residents were diagnosed while outside the state.
Statewide, 30,846 people have tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of last February. The Big Island had a 1.2% test positivity rate, under the statewide rate of 1.6%.
Over the past two weeks, the Big Island has reported 127 cases, or an average of 6.6 cases per day. In the past 14 days, 39 cases have been reported in Hilo and 54 in Kailua-Kona.
Statewide, 47 people were hospitalized Monday, with three hospitalized on the Big Island. To date, 2,387 people have required hospitalization, including 123 on the Big Island.
No new coronavirus-related death was reported by the state Monday. Of the 471 coronavirus-related deaths confirmed and reported by the state to date, 370 were on Oahu, 44 were on Maui, 53 were on the Big Island and one on Kauai. Three deaths were among residents outside the state.
According to the Department of Health, the state has administered 106,749 does of the COVID-19 vaccine on the Big Island. That figure doesn’t include vaccines administered by federal agencies or pharmacies. Just over 41,000 people of the island’s estimated population of 201,503 are fully vaccinated.