HONOLULU — Hawaii officials said Tuesday they plan to have people make online reservations to receive the coronavirus vaccine in order to avoid crowding and long lines at distribution centers.
Health care officials are currently vaccinating health care workers, first responders and those living in long-term care facilities — all people in the highest priority groups for getting doses.
Next up will be those over the age of 75, a group estimated to number 109,000, and essential workers whose jobs require them to be close to the public or coworkers. Vaccinations for the general public are expected to begin in early summer, depending on the availability of doses.
Dr. Libby Char, the director of the state Department of Health, said online reservations will allow officials to match capacity with those receiving doses.
She said she wants to avoid scenes witnessed in Florida, where older adults waited in long lines to receive the vaccine on a first-come first-serve basis.
"To think of our kupuna being outdoors camping out overnight trying get vaccine is a pretty scary thought," Char said, using the Hawaiian word for elder.
Char said the state has already used the reservation system to vaccinate people and her expectations are high it will work for the elderly.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said vaccination "pods" have been giving shots to 400 to 500 people a day with no lines. He envisions vaccine distribution centers eventually having multiple such pods as more and more people are vaccinated.
Green said the state's coronavirus information website hawaiicovid19.com would have information on making reservations. He urged those interested to keep checking that site in coming days. A phone line will also be available.
Older people living in long-term care facilities will be able to receive the vaccine at their place of residence.
Green expressed hope that older adults living independently would get help from family and friends to make reservations and get their vaccinations.
Based on surveys the state has conducted, Green said he expects about 80% of the state's 1.4 million people will eventually get the vaccine. He said some 55% said they would absolutely get the vaccine and 25% said they were open to getting shots after seeing others get it and determine the vaccine is safe.