People with high-risk medical conditions and those 65 and older will be added to the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility pool starting Monday, marking the state’s entrance into its 1c vaccine phase, Hawaii health officials announced Tuesday.
Until now, the vaccines were limited to health workers, long term care facility residents, and kupuna 70 years old and older, along with a collection of frontline essential workers.
People on oxygen support or dialysis, as well as those undergoing chemotherapy or infusion therapy, will now be eligible, according to Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char.
Hilton Raethel, the president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii said the recommendation to focus on those conditions first came from a group of physician leaders who were convened specifically for the task.
Raethel said the group came to the conclusion it would be too complex to include all possible conditions that might predispose a person to severe COVID-19. Since age is generally correlated with those conditions, he said, it made more sense to continue moving through age groups in five-year increments and focus only on those disease categories.
High Risk Medical Conditions
People ages 16 – 64 with the following conditions are eligible for phase 1c COVID-19 vaccines:
1. Dialysis dependent ESRD
2. Oxygen dependent respiratory disease
3. Oxygen dependent cardiovascular disease
4. Cancer or autoimmune disease undergoing active chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medication therapy at an infusion center
Source: Healthcare Association of Hawaii
More categories of essential workers will be added to the eligibility pool, including those who work in “hotels and hospitality, food service, banking and finance, transportation, construction, media, logistics, information technology and more.” Essential workers are defined as “people in industries and occupations important to the functioning of society and at increased risk of exposure,” according to the Department of Health.
Hawaii clinics received about 62,000 doses this week and are due to receive more vaccine doses from federal authorities.
In Hawaii’s vaccine announcement, Char estimated it would take several months for Hawaii health providers to complete phase 1c inoculations. An estimated 500,000 people are included in Hawaii’s phase 1c.
Asked whether or not Hawaii would be able to meet Biden’s May mandate, DOH Spokesman Brooks Baehr would not say.
The “pace at which we can proceed depends on the vaccine supply allotted to us,” he wrote to Civil Beat by email.
Starting next week, those newly eligible may register for an appointment at hawaiicovid19.com or directly with health care providers.
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