By Marybeth Kotrodimos
Featured photo: JABSOM medical student Chad Russell administers a mock immunization to his classmate, Rohin Krishnan, during Transition to Clerkship 2020. Vina Cristobal photo.
April 24-30 is World Immunization Week (we know, we know, there seems to be a day, a week or a month for everything these days)! But this healthcare commemoration is particularly relevant this year when, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, our very survival seems to hang on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
With much misinformation going around on this topic, the State of Hawaii COVID-19 Portal (https://hawaiicovid19.com/) is one place where Island State residents can go for the official lowdown on the COVID vaccine, including who is eligible, how to register for it, where you can go to get vaccinated, as well as other facts relevant to the pandemic. Here’s some of the latest information available on this portal:
On Oahu, we are currently in Phase 1c of COVID vaccine rollouts. This means that anyone in the following groups is eligible for a vaccination at this time:
- Individuals 50+
- Healthcare Workers
- Long-Term Care Facilities (residents & staff)
- Residential Care Homes (residents & staff)
- First Responders/Dispatchers
- Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources (Harbor/Dock, Electric, Gas, Drinking Water, Wastewater, Telephone)
- Education (Teachers Post-secondary, K-12, Preschool, Daycare)
- Public Transit
- Food Production & Agriculture
- Grocery Stores
- U.S. Postal Service
- Essential Federal, State & Local Government
- Patients on dialysis, oxygen, or chemotherapy
- Transplant recipients on immunosuppressant medication or transplant waiting list
- Essential workers at hotels, restaurants & bars
- Banking & Finance, Transportation & Logistics
- Construction, Information Technology
- Communications, Media
On April 19, Oahu is slated to move into Phase 2, which means we can add individuals above the age of 16 to this list. The Islands of Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui are currently at Phase 2 in the distribution of the COVID vaccines.
On April 13, vaccination sites that were scheduled to administer the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine began offering a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or rescheduling disbursements of the shots. This is because the CDC and FDA recommended a pause in use of the J&J vaccine after there were six reported US cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in people who received this vaccine. This pause will allow the healthcare system to identify and treat affected patients appropriately.
The state COVID 19 portal also contains information on testing, requirements for inter-island travel, and how to return to Hawaii without quarantining after traveling to the Mainland, through the Safe Travels Hawaii program.
As for that other immunization many of us get every year, it is more important than ever get your yearly flu shot and take precautions not to contract influenza. As we worry about the ravages of COVID-19, it is easy to forget that the flu will always be with us. A COVID-19 vaccination will not protect you from the flu. According to the Health and Science section of the parenting website, Fatherly.com, the low incidence of flu this season “is probably due in large part to masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizing” so do keep up with these safe practices to avoid what it refers to as “the mortal dangers of both COVID-19 and the flu.” As they say, “It’s more crucial than ever to get your flu shot.”*
So for your own health and safety, as well as the health and safety of everyone around you and in your greater community, remember: Keep practicing safe distancing and wearing your mask around people outside your bubble – and please consider getting your vaccinations as soon as possible. We all depend on each other to make healthy choices!