COVID-19 Vaccine Update for Maui
Errol Buntuyan | M.D., F.A.A.P.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been on Maui for over a month now and there are folks in the 1A group (medical providers, nursing home residents) immunized with both doses of the vaccine. Earlier in the month, there were advertisements the 1B group (75 years old and above, front line essential workers) were to start with the vaccinations at Maui Health System but due to the current shortage of supplies, this campaign has been put on hold.
There were about 4,000 1st round Moderna vaccinations given by the Department of Health to mostly people in the 1A group. The plan is to have these folks receive their second round completed before starting on the next group. The Department of Health has not yet reopened the distribution of first round vaccinations at University of Hawai‘i Maui College and will do so once more vaccines are available.
Maui Health has given about 5,000 Pfizer shots thus far and has been vaccinating 1A and 1B groups prior to last week’s unexpected decrease in supply. Maui Health is also focusing on completing their second dose vaccinations at this time. Vaccine scheduling for first dose appointments was postponed with about 15,000 people already on the waiting list. It will be announced on the Maui Health website, local media outlets and radio advertisements when the first dose appointment requests will resume.
For the most up to date vaccine information, please visit the following websites and contact info:
• Maui Health COVID-19 Vaccine Information (www.mauihealth.org/covidvaccine)
• Hawai‘i Department of Health (hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine/)
• Hawai‘i Department of Health Immunization Branch, (808) 586-8332, or toll free (800) 933-4832
• Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html)
With the new administration under President Biden, the efforts to increase the vaccine supply are underway. We hope Maui will be getting our supply in the next few weeks. The Department of Health is working with local organizations to get the Moderna vaccine out to clinics throughout the island and planning efforts are underway. Maui Health is also planning to get the vaccine out to distribution centers in the south side and the west side.
Until we get the vaccine distributed to the majority of our Maui community, we still need to keep safe and practice social distancing, mask wearing, hand hygiene and wiping down surfaces. Maui Memorial Medical Center is currently over maximum capacity. At the time of writing this update, many patients are waiting for bed placements and there are two wards full of COVID positive patients.
Our daily lives seem to have resumed since the tourism industry returned. Some of us have gone back to our normal routines of work, grocery shopping, gyms, social activities, and recreational sports. Current outbreaks are noted to have originated in work place lunch rooms and small social gatherings. It is not surprising our infectivity rates have gone up because of this.
With this sense of normalcy, it is easy to forget there are many local community members with COVID-19 suffering with severe symptoms quarantined at home, seeking care in medical clinics, or fighting for survival in the hospital.
Now more than ever is the time to be aware of your exposure risks. Stay home as much as you can, limit your social gatherings and be extra cautious when you are interacting in our community. Always be mindful of your surroundings and strive to protect yourself and those you love.
Errol Buntuyan, M.D. is a Family Medicine Practitioner and the Physician in Charge of Maui Primary Care at Kaiser Permanente. Born in Quezon City and raised in Southern California, he has been practicing medicine on Maui since 2007. Dr. Buntuyan promotes whole food, plant based nutrition, regular physical activity, stress mindfulness and sleep hygiene as keys to optimum health and wellness. He enjoys cooking, playing tennis and travel.