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DOH Expands Vaccination Eligibility To Those 70 And Older

Daniel Dennison (State of Hawaii)

Starting next Monday, people age 70 and older will be eligible to get to their COVID-19 vaccination. The state Department of Health made the announcement Wednesday afternoon shortly after the first shipment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in the state.

So far, vaccines have been reserved for health care workers, frontline essential workers, those in long-term care facilities, and k?puna 75 and older.

Health director Doctor Elizabeth Char says it makes sense to expand vaccination eligibility.

"We have been watching the data and the vaccination process, and we noticed that the uptake of appointments have been slowing down," she said. "In order to keep it brisk, we want people to sign up, make appointments, and come and get vaccinated. So we are welcoming those 70 and above a little bit ahead of schedule."

Char says the state's vaccine allocation combined with the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will boost the expected amount of doses available -- from 40,000 a week to more than 67,000.

The state received nearly 11,900 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday. The DOH says 5,900 doses are allocated for O?ahu, while the remaining 6,000 will be evenly distributed to Hawai?i County, Maui County and Kaua?i.

Char says the department may enter Phase 1C in a couple of weeks. That phase will allow those 65 and older, people with a high risk of COVID-19 complications and other essential workers to be able to receive the vaccine.

More information about the state's vaccination schedule can be found at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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