Maui First Responders Begin Vaccinations at UHMC Drive Up Clinic
December 23, 2020, 6:09 PM HST
* Updated December 26, 2:48 PM
A drive up COVID-19 vaccination clinic was held for first responders at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College in Kahului on Wednesday for fire personnel, police officers, paramedics and front line medical workers.
Among those receiving their vaccination was Police Chief Tivoli Faaumu and Maui American Medical Response Operations Manager Curt Morimoto.
“Being on the front line, in the beginning of the pandemic, we know how important it is to keep the first line, the first responders and also our health care providers vaccinated and to protect them so that they can provide service to our community,” said Chief Faaumu.
For Morimoto, he said he’s waited for this day for a while. “It’s very important, I think that we have police, fire, and EMS here. I think it sends the message that if we feel this is safe–and we’re taking care of the community and residents as well as visitors out there–and we’re confident to have it, that hopefully, the public sees it as a positive and it may lessen their fears getting the vaccine themselves.”
Maui District Health Director Dr. Lorrin Pang said the clinics will be held three times a week for priority workers, 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.
He noted that the upcoming clinics are being organized by employer grouping as they are called upon, and vaccination is not yet available to the general public. Dr. Pang said he hopes to vaccinate 600 people under the priority grouping on Saturday with a first dose of the Moderna vaccine. A second dose will be administered about 21 days or so after the initial dose.
According to Health officials, Molokaʻi will be supported directly through Queens Medical Center on Oʻahu. Lānaʻi will be getting a portion of the Maui supply.
Dr. Pang said he also hopes to send quantities of vaccination to remote communities like Hāna in East Maui so that the community can conduct their own vaccinations based on priority grouping.
Earlier in the day, Maui Health vaccinated frontline health care workers with the Pfizer vaccine, including vaccinations for respiratory therapists, ICU nurses and emergency room nurses and physicians. They were among the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday morning at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
“This was a momentous event in Maui County history. Vaccines are an important step forward in protecting our community from COVID-19,” Mayor Michael Victorino said in a press release on Wednesday afternoon.
The mayor was among those who attended the first responder event on Wednesday afternoon to monitor progress. “Although the vaccine will not be widely available to the general public until next year, first priority has been given to our frontline heroes — healthcare professionals, first responders and our vulnerable kupuna. I look forward to getting the vaccine. However, limited supplies should be prioritized for those most at risk. We are on the right path to restoring the health of our community and rebuilding our economy.”
The vaccine is being provided in phases, based on supply. The first vaccine doses are being administered to those in high-priority groups. As more supply becomes available, the vaccine will be provided to other priority groups and then to the general public next year. The vaccine is voluntary. County officials say that eventually, all adults who want to be vaccinated will be able to do so.