(BIVN) – The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to Hawaii arrived at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu on Monday morning.
975 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were part of the initial delivery, marking what the State says is an important milestone in the ongoing effort to combat COVID-19 and return life to normal. The Pfizer vaccine has been given emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Officials say the delivery of the remaining 3,900 doses of the prepositioning order is expected Wednesday, December 16th.
“It is gratifying to be able to offer the vaccine to health care workers who have sacrificed so much to protect all of us,” said Gov. David Ige. “The vaccine provides another important layer of protection to safeguard our kūpuna and others in long-term care facilities.”
“The vaccine is a major tool in combating COVID-19, and it is critical we continue to use all the tools at our disposal,” said Department of Health Director Libby Char. “We still do not know whether a person who has been vaccinated can carry the virus and infect others. We do not know how long the vaccine will confer immunity. Until these questions are answered, we must continue to protect ourselves and the people we love by wearing face masks and physical distancing,” Char added.
The State says almost 45,000 additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to arrive in Hawaiʻi this month. Also, as many as 36,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected by the end of the year, pending federal approval.
The State says the first to receive the vaccine will be health care workers at high risk of exposure, and residents of long-term care facilities.
Hawaiʻi island expects to see its first doses of the vaccine by next week. Kona Community Hospital says it does not know how many doses it will initially receive.
Last week on Oahu, the Queen’s Medical Center coordinated a mock vaccine shipment. The hospital says the shipping drill will allow Queen’s to prepare staff for the acceptance and storage of the vaccine. Video provided by the hospital shows the thermal container that will be used to transport the vaccine.
A Defense Department video shows an unboxing of a Pfizer shipment, part of a series intended for those who will administer the vaccine at the state level. As Operation Warp Speed makes clear, once the vaccine in in the possession of the State, its up to the State to get everyone vaccinated.
Counties are already preparing. The Hawai‘i Department of Health and City and County of Honolulu recently conducted a vaccination distribution exercise. It was the first of a number of drills planned statewide in every county to prepare to safely and efficiently administer the vaccine.
One challenge already identified will be to keep the vaccine supply at the correct temperature. That was part of the discussion during a recent joint meeting of the Hawaiʻi State House and Senate.
Residents will have a chance to participate in a virtual Town Hall Tuesday night, hosted by COVID Pau over Facebook live at 7 p.m.