Iti Salun-At Yo

More Vaccinations on the Way

Errol Buntuyan | M.D., F.A.A.P.

The race to get COVID vaccinations into the arms of our Maui residents is underway. With the rise of COVID infections this last month, Maui County maintains the highest percent infectivity rate in the state. The majority of the positive cases are the highly contagious California variant, meaning it is easier to become infected with the virus and spread it to others.

The impact on our Filipino community has been profound. Many families became infected with COVID this month. Our hospital has seen a rise in positive cases with at least twenty-two patients admitted, some in the ICU and needing intubation. Folks in our community have had to stay home from the exposure, be quarantined from loved ones and unable to go to work.

96 year old Catalina Evangelista receives her Pfizer vaccine at Maui Memorial Medical Center.

The good news is although the positivity rate has increased, the majority of our community practices social distancing and wearing masks. This helps to prevent exposure to high COVID viral loads and decrease the intensity of the infection. Still, with the more highly contagious California strain we are worried about exposing our more vulnerable elderly population to this deadly virus. The likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization and death is much higher in our older generation regardless of the amount of virus they may be exposed to.

Another positive note is the arrival of more vaccines on Maui. The Hawai‘i Department of Health is receiving more vaccines and delivering them to our Maui District Health Office, local pharmacies, and organizations. Maui Health System continues its campaign of delivering the Pfizer vaccine to those eligible at Maui Memorial Medical Center and will have a distribution outpost at the Grand Wailea Hotel ballroom.

Alfredo Evangelista receives his Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the War Memorial gymnasium.

The Maui District Health Office continues with their twice weekly distribution at UH Maui College. MinitMedical also has provided vaccine distribution clinics at the War Memorial Gymnasium throughout the week. Kaiser Permanente is vaccinating daily (Monday through Friday) and have hosted Saturday clinics. Maui Medical Group and some local pharmacies also are giving vaccines. Local community centers like Binhi at Ani are hosting pop up vaccine clinics. There will be more and more opportunities in the next month to sign up and get your vaccination. Currently, close to 24 percent of the Maui population has at least one dose of the vaccination.

The eligibility criteria rapidly expanded to group 2 and almost all Maui residents are now able to be vaccinated. As of April 6, vaccine registration is open to anyone over age 16 for the Pfizer vaccine and anyone over age 18 for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Rosario Versola received the Moderna vaccine at War Memorial gymnasium.

The informational box (shown in the graphic titled “COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Access Info Box”) contains the key weblinks and contact information to get registered. These sites will have questions verifying your eligibility and allowing the booking of a vaccination appointment. Each site should also indicate which vaccine(s) they will be distributing when you book your appointment. Please keep in mind some vaccine choices may not be available due to the weekly supply chain delivery.

As we race to stop the spread of COVID infections within our Maui community, the best way to protect ourselves is to get the vaccine the moment you become eligible. Until we get fully vaccinated, please remember to remain safe and decrease your exposure risks. It’s been a very long and tiresome year of living within the confines of being in a pandemic but hopefully soon, we will be able to get back to some sense of pre-COVID normalcy when the majority of our island is vaccinated.

See the graphic titled “Frequently Asked Questions • COVID-19 Vaccine” for useful information on the COVID-19 vaccine in Ilokano and Tagalog. Furnished by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, the Ilokano link is and the Tagalog link is–NTg6Sn39hOZZ/pub

Errol Buntuyan, M.D., F.A.A.P. 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.