COVID-19 Vaccines Can Help Protect Our Island Communities - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Cynthia Goto

Cynthia Goto received her medical degree from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has worked in chronic disease prevention and tobacco control for over 10 years and is the chair of the leadership board of the American Lung Association in Hawaii.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, some of Hawaii’s first responders are beginning to have access to life-saving vaccines. Within the next months, the state will begin to provide vaccines to the rest of Hawaii’s residents.

The American Lung Association in Hawaii strongly encourages all Hawaii residents to speak with their health care providers about a plan for getting the vaccine when it becomes available.

In addition to mask-wearing and social distancing measures, widespread vaccination will help us achieve the herd immunity that is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Widespread vaccination will save lives and protect those who are most vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the disease, particularly those in Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian populations, who have faced higher rates of infection and death from COVID-19.

While the virus does not discriminate, the pandemic has focused a spotlight on the health disparities affecting our most underserved populations. Reports and studies from across the nation show the coronavirus is disproportionately infecting and killing Black, Latino, Alaska Native and American Indian people, along with Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Syringes containing Pfizer COVID-19 part 1 vaccination at the Queen’s Medical Center press event vaccinating 5 volunteers. December 15, 2020
Syringes at the Queen’s Medical Center containing Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

According to the CDC, some risk factors may make an individual more susceptible to the most severe effects of the disease. Such factors include moderate to severe asthma, lung cancer and other co-morbidities.

Even more troubling is the fact that Hawaii has the highest rates of asthma mortality in the nation and some of the lowest survival rates for lung cancer. Given the poor outcome for these lung diseases, it’s extremely important that we do all we can to slow the spread of COVID-19 and champion widespread adoption of the vaccine.

As our tourism industry continues to reopen, we must be prepared to protect our local populations from severe illness. Part of that will include getting a majority of Hawaii’s population vaccinated when the vaccine becomes available.

In this first round, we are seeing health care providers prioritized, with the CDC recommending that the next round of vaccinations go to people age 75 and over and frontline essential workers.

To encourage public health measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and widespread adoption of an FDA-authorized vaccine, the American Lung Association launched the COVID-19 Action Initiative, a $25 million investment to end the pandemic and decrease health disparities in underserved communities.

Through the Action Initiative, we are advocating for equitable distribution of the vaccine and encouraging Americans to discuss getting vaccinated.

As Hawaii’s trusted champion of lung health, the American Lung Association offers numerous science- and fact-based resources to help protect the health of your family and our community. We have a vested interest in ending the devastation that COVID-19 is causing our ohana and our communities.

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About the Author

Cynthia Goto

Cynthia Goto received her medical degree from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has worked in chronic disease prevention and tobacco control for over 10 years and is the chair of the leadership board of the American Lung Association in Hawaii.

Latest Comments (0)

As soon as possible, make masks the first thing to begin phasing out.  Keep social distancing until herd immunity achieved.  Do it in phases.  Have metrics to get rid of them, eg 25 or fewer cases per day and less than one percent positivity rate.  First get rid of any mask requirements in any outdoor setting.  Second get rid of mask requirements in any sports/work out venues such as gyms and bowling alleys that are adequately socially distant and numbers inside at 50% or less of fire code capacity.  Third, eliminate mask requirements in shopping malls and stores so long as capacity at 50% or less and keep floor tape markers for social distance in place.  Fourth eliminate mask requirement everywhere in tandem with social distance requirements relaxed, everywhere except hospitals, doctor clinics, and any other medical facilities, those should be the last.  Throughout the process, as mask requirements eased continue to and always make it a personal choice to wear or not wear.  We need to have ultimate goal of completely phasing out mask wearing.  I hope they all gone once herd immunity achieved, hopefully by middle/end of summer, 2021 if no hiccups in vaccine distribution.  

steelersfanhawaii · 2 years ago

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