Two mass COVID-19 vaccination centers will soon open on Oahu.
It’s part of an effort to get Hawaii residents vaccinated, explained Hawaii Pacific Health’s CEO Ray Vara.
“We're going to be operating it beginning next Monday, on a Monday through Saturday basis by appointment only,” he said.
“We're going to be able to systematically at the start of it get somewhere north of 1000 people through a day, ramping up in the next few weeks to somewhere between three and 4000 a day.”
One vaccination center operated through Hawaii Pacific Health will open on Monday at Pier 2 Cruise Terminal. Another mass vaccination center operated through Queen’s Medical Center will open on the 25th at Neal Blaisdell Center. Both facilities hope to scale up to vaccinate 5,000 people per day.
Right now, only those who are 75-and-over or essential workers can sign up on the hawaii pacific health website. Queen’s will also have a website to sign up starting next week.
However Vara explained, as more people are vaccinated, it will open up to those who are 65 years and older too.
“It would do us no good right now to open up to the over 65. While we still have a significant number of over 75 population that we have to vaccinate,” he said.
“And so I'd asked you to help communicate that, that there is going to be this flow process based on demand as we work our way through the phases.
The vaccination centers will at first start using only the Pfizer vaccine which needs to be stored at negative 94 degrees fahrenheit.
The doses will not be stored at the vaccination centers, explained Dr. Melinda Ashton, an executive vice president at Hawaii Pacific Health.
“We're gonna store the vaccine at the hospital. It needs to be secured,” she said.
“We need to monitor the temperature all the time. So it's safer to have it there than here. And we'll transport it over as we need it.”
In order to be injected, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be defrosted. And that can be done in batches of no smaller than five doses-- which is the amount in each vial.
That’s why the appointments are so important said Queen’s CEO Jill Hoggard Green.
“We carefully count the number of vials that we're going to bring to the site. But we are extraordinarily careful about when you bring out the next tray,” she said.
“Because what you don't ever want to do is waste a drop. So that's the reason we're scheduling is to have a pretty good idea to say how many people come.”
Green explained the reason it took this long to open a facility like this is because the state has not been able to anticipate how much vaccine it would get. They did not want to run out of vaccines and not be able to fulfill appointments.
Hawaii Pacific Health has 20,000 doses of the vaccine ready for when the facility opens on Monday.
At the facilities, patients will also make an appointment to get their second dose 21 days later.