Maui Coronavirus Updates

New Ultra-Cold Freezer Installed at Kaiser as Maui Prepares for Arrival of COVID-19 Vaccine

December 11, 2020, 10:42 AM HST
* Updated December 12, 8:57 AM
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PC: Kaiser Permanente, Maui

As the nation prepares for COVID-19 vaccines to become available, Kaiser Permanente’s physicians, pharmacists, clinical, and operational leaders have been working to ensure Maui is ready for this next phase.

In preparation for the first shipment, an ultra-cold freezer unit was purchased and installed to receive vaccine allotment for Maui.  The freezer can hold up to 200,000 doses of vaccine and will be available to help other health care organizations who need access to ultra-cold storage.  The unit can maintain a temperature of -80 and has a real-time monitoring system to ensure safety.

Maui Health has indicated that a separate freezer capable of maintaining the low temperatures is on loan from the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

A total of 81,000 vaccine does are headed to Hawai‘i, with the first shipment of 4,875 doses of the newly FDA endorsed Pfizer vaccine to possibly arrive as early as next week, according to Governor David Ige.

State officials say Hawai‘i is expected to receive 36,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, in addition to nearly 46,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the month of December alone.

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Initially, Maui is expected to receive limited quantities of the vaccine. Supplies will increase over time, and all adults should be able to get vaccinated later in 2021, according to Kaiser.

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Mayor Michael Victorino said Maui County’s allotment is 16,000 doses. Since dosing needs to be administered two times, Mayor Victorino said “we’re looking at approximately 8,000 (to be vaccinated) in the first round.” Priority distribution is set for emergency workers and health care workers with the most vulnerable populations also considered for distribution.

Federal health officials have indicated that frontline health care workers will be among those prioritized along with people most vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, such as those living in skilled nursing facilities.

As the vaccine becomes available, we will be working in partnership with public health officials to prioritize vaccinations, and we expect to offer it to those who meet the criteria in each phase of the process. Kaiser Permanente websites will list where our members and employees can receive the vaccine.

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Kaiser Permanente representatives say they have “decades of experience delivering vaccinations safely and efficiently. We have been a leader in vaccine research for more than 30 years and have participated in clinical trials for almost every vaccine that has been licensed in the United States.”

While a vaccine will be vital to ending the pandemic, it will take a several months to achieve widespread vaccination. Kaiser Permanente representatives note that, “Public health measures like physical distancing, masking and frequent hand washing are still critical to protect the health of our community.”

  • Individuals with questions about COVID-19 vaccines, can call Kaiser Permanente’s national COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 855-550-0951.
  • The hotline is available 24/7, and provides the latest vaccine information, offered in English and Spanish.
  • The hotline is available to both members and non-members.
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