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The push to vaccinate Hawaiʻi National Guard members ahead of the deadlines

Sgt. John Schoebel
Wikimedia Commons

It was almost exactly a year ago that the Hawaiʻi National Guard lost one of its members due to COVID-19.

Hawaiʻi guard members now have the chance to get vaccinated when they report for monthly training. That started this past weekend for the 5,500 guard members around the state.

The Air Guard's federal vaccination deadline is Dec. 2, 2021, and the Army Guard's deadline is June 2022.

Brigadier General Moses Kaoiwi of the Hawaiʻi National Guard says he isn't sure why the deadlines are different, but he says Hawaiʻi isn’t waiting.

"What we want to do is try and start this as quickly as possible. It's not so much, we got a lot of time so we're going to wait," Kaoiwi told The Conversation. "What we want to do is get as many vaccinated as possible with the vaccinations that we have so that we can be ready and increase our safety, especially since we're out there doing COVID-19 mitigation, especially with the Delta variant."

"We're looking good statewide because the numbers are going down. But we still, from my perspective as a commander, I want to ensure that all the personnel who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated," he said.

Kaoiwi says a small number of guard members have applied for vaccine exemptions for medical reasons, religious beliefs, and administrative reasons such as being close to retirement.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Oct. 8, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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