Lānaʻi Leading the Way as Hopes for Herd Immunity are Honed with Expanded Eligibility
The Island of Lānaʻi could achieve herd immunity by the end of April, according to Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. He said he hopes to work with health officials on Molokaʻi in an effort to gain herd immunity there as well.
A team from the Maui Memorial Medical Center was sent to Lānaʻi over the weekend to assist with vaccinating Lānaʻi residents 16 years of age and older who wished to get the vaccine, regardless of phase eligibility.
More than 400 vaccines were administered during Saturday’s drive-through clinic on Lānaʻi, and the team plans to return on April 17 to provide second doses as well as first doses to remaining residents who are still interested.
“I was inspired by all the community members on Lānaʻi that came out last weekend to get vaccinated. This was an amazing opportunity and showed how everyone took their personal responsibility to get vaccinated as part of the greater good,” said Representative Lynn DeCoite (House District 13 – Haʻikū, Hāna, Kaupō, Kīpahulu, Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Molokini) in an email communication to Maui Now. “If we can achieve herd immunity on Lānaʻi, and even Molokaʻi, it’s a tremendous example for the rest of our State and the entire country.”
There are an estimated 3,000 people living on Lānaʻi and 7,400 on Molokaʻi. In order to achieve herd immunity, experts had previously suggested that 70 percent of the population would have to be vaccinated; but a health department spokesperson says that projection was before variants developed, and could be higher today.
“The variants may mean a higher percentage of our population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity,” said Department of Health spokesperson Brook Baehr, noting that Molokaʻi, like Lānaʻi, is currently vaccinating everyone eligible in Phase 2 of the vaccination plan. The expanded eligibility for all residents 16 and older will also be extended to residents on Maui Island beginning on Monday, April 5. This comes ahead of initial DOH projections that Phase 2 would start in May.
“While we can move closer to normalcy as more and more people get vaccinated, it is still too early for that to happen. We are seeing rising case counts. People should be vigilant in protecting themselves and their loved ones against COVID-19. We ask that people please continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and avoid large gatherings,” said Baehr.
In Maui County (which includes the islands of Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi), the DOH reports that 28.1 percent (44,869) of the population have received a first dose of the vaccine; 13.0 percent (20,082) have completed two doses; and an additional 1,582 doses (of single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine) have been initiated and completed. In total, Maui County has administered 66,533 doses among a total population base of 167,488. This count does not include federal doses that were distributed and administered at pharmacies across the state.
The Maui Health and Lānaʻi Community Hospital team in partnership with the Lānaʻi Police Department, Lānaʻi Emergency Operations Center team, and other community leaders hosted the drive-through clinic.
The Lānaʻi event was supported by the state Department of Health and the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi in a focused effort to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all residents.
“The Department of Health deemed it vital for all eligible Lānaʻi residents to be vaccinated to help prevent any future COVID-19 outbreak,” according to a spokesperson at Maui Health. “As a small community, Lānaʻi would benefit from the majority of its residents being vaccinated, which would allow residents to remain healthy, avoid straining the limited health care resources on island if an outbreak were to occur, and to help get island life back to some sense of normalcy. ”
More COVID-19 vaccine information for Lānaʻi is available online here.