Frontline Health Care Workers Receive the First Pfizer Vaccines to Reach Maui
Maui Health frontline health care workers including respiratory therapists, ICU nurses and emergency room nurses and physicians were among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine this morning at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Respiratory Therapist Will Ambat was the first person to get vaccinated in Maui County today. He eagerly volunteered to get the vaccine on this first day to protect himself and his family.
“Today there is hope. There is hope that as 2020 comes to a close and 2021 begins we are, fingers crossed, approaching the beginning of the end to this disaster. This year has been exhausting to say the least and today a part of the weight of fear has been lifted. It is bittersweet getting vaccinated as a frontline respiratory therapist while our loved ones are still waiting. I hope that as healthcare workers continue to get vaccinated the public will gain confidence in this scientific tool to help quell this pandemic and to protect one another,” said Ambat.
“With this being a respiratory disease, our respiratory therapy team has been on the frontlines treating very sick patients. I want to do anything I can to help keep the people I love from having to go through what we’ve seen our patients go through. To me, this is one of the most important things I can do as a health care worker and as a respiratory therapist, I am proud to be the first to receive the vaccine.”
Jason Aines, MD, an emergency room physician and co-director of the MMMC Emergency Department, was the first doctor in Maui County to receive the vaccine.
“I feel great. I feel thankful and gracious for all of the time, hard work, and energy that went into the research, production, testing, and delivery of this vaccine in such an incredibly short amount of time. And, this moment is the product of all that work. We finally have a chance to protect ourselves and protect our most vulnerable against the transmission of this disease,” said Aines. “We live in a small, isolated community, bound by only a few degrees of separation, and the decision to get vaccinated is not so much for me, as it is for the community at large.”
Maui Health received its first shipment of 975 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines on Monday, with more vaccine doses arriving soon, and began vaccinating employees and affiliated community physicians this morning.
Vaccine clinics will be held at MMMC seven days a week, ten hours a day, to ensure all Maui Health employees and affiliated physicians can receive the vaccine, if they wish.
At this time, Maui Health is not offering vaccines to the general public.
The Moderna vaccines are scheduled to reach Lānaʻi for Lānaʻi Community Hospital employees and physicians next week with vaccine clinics to be scheduled soon. These will be administered by CVS Pharmacy as part of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services program for long-term care facilities.
Later in the day, a drive up clinic was held for first responders at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in Kahului. The UH event utilized the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which arrived the night before. Among those receiving their vaccination at the event was Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and Maui American Medical Response Operations Manager Curt Morimoto.
Maui District Health Director Dr. Lorrin Pang said the clinics will be held three times a week with a goal of conducting 700 vaccinations a day once supplies increase. He said the county received about 2,000 doses so far this week. The upcoming clinics are being organized by employer grouping as they are called upon, and is not yet available to the general public.