One year later, ‘vaccines are truly life-savers’

The state Department of Health on Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccinations in the islands.

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine shot in Hawaii was given Dec. 15, 2020, to Dr. Lester Morehead, a hospitalist at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.


One year later, 2,439,075 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered statewide.

“COVID-19 vaccines are truly life-savers,”Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said in a statement. “And everything we learn about the omicron variant tells us the vaccines are just as important today as they were when we administered the first shot one year ago.”

The DOH estimates 73.2% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated and has received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one shot of the Johnson &Johnson vaccine.

In Hawaii County, 65% are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in the state.

In the City and County of Honolulu, 76% are fully vaccinated, followed by the counties of Kauai (70%) and Maui (66%).

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,035 in-state residents have died from COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

“Hawaii has embraced the vaccines, but it is important for those who are not yet vaccinated to get their shots. And with the introduction of the omicron variant, it is very important for those who are eligible to get their booster shots as soon as possible,” Char said.

People at least 18 years old who completed their initial series of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago should a booster, according to the DOH.

Those who are 16 and older who completed their initial series of Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago can get a booster.

Those who received a single dose of the Johnson &Johnson vaccine at least two months ago should get a booster.

“Booster shots are readily available and strongly encouraged,” Char said. “It appears holiday gatherings, the omicron variant and loosened restrictions are fueling an increase in COVID cases. Vaccines, mask wearing and avoiding large gatherings will help us safely navigate the holiday season.”

Information on free testing and vaccines is available at

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