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Hundreds vaccinated at HMC

More than 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered at Hilo Medical Center since vaccination efforts began on Dec. 23.

“Things have been going really well,” Assistant Hospital Administrator Kris Wilson said.

A “tremendous” amount of planning and effort went into making the hospital’s rollout as smooth as possible for staff running the COVID-19 vaccine clinic and those coming to get immunized, she said.

As of Monday afternoon, 520 vaccines had been administered through the clinic.

According to Wilson, HMC now has the capacity to administer 240 vaccine doses a day.

On Monday, 220 HMC employees and other East Hawaii health care providers — all part of the initial priority group, including front-line health care workers, who will be vaccinated first — received their inoculations.

Jennifer Aguiar, administration service officer at HMC, who is the point of contact for the clinic, said the vaccines are now also available to East Hawaii health care providers outside of HMC and the East Hawaii Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., including physical therapists, dentists and other community providers who have face-to-face contact with patients.

According to Wilson, 800 HMC and East Hawaii Region employees have signed up to receive the vaccine, including the 520 who already have been vaccinated. Another 200 health care providers not affiliated with the hospital have been scheduled to be vaccinated.

Aguiar said the numbers are growing faster than anticipated.

Some staff members initially declined to get the vaccine, she said, but many feel more comfortable now after their coworkers were vaccinated without having any reactions.

“It’s really just an overall great feeling to see our local health care (providers are) receiving the vaccine so we are collectively protecting ourselves so we can protect our patients, families and community,” HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said.

HMC last week received about 1,500 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this month.

A similar vaccine from Moderna also received emergency use authorization from the FDA.

The administrators said HMC was, as of Monday, still waiting on confirmation about the Moderna vaccine and was “currently unsure” when additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine might be available.

The state, however, said Hawaii received its second shipment of the Moderna vaccine on Monday.

The state Department of Health received 5,200 doses on Oahu, and another 5,700 doses were set to arrive on the neighbor islands.

CVS and Walgreens also were expecting deliveries Monday for use in long-term care facilities.

Approximately 14,000 vaccines have been administered statewide as of Monday, not including vaccines distributed through the U.S. Department of Defense.

No severe reactions to the vaccine have been reported at HMC.

Aguiar said some staff reported mild fatigue or injection-site pain.

Individuals without a history of past anaphylactic shock are monitored for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, and those who have past allergic reactions are asked to stay for 30 minutes.

Health care providers interested in signing up for the COVID-19 vaccine can visit hilomedicalcenter.org for more details.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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