Hawaii officials are preparing to immunize 44,000 high-risk residents next month if COVID-19 treatme …

Hawaii officials are preparing to immunize 44,000 high-risk residents next month if COVID-19 treatment is approved

Hawaii officials are preparing to immunize about 44,000 high-risk residents against COVID-19 starting as early as next month, while urging even greater vigilance against the virus’ spread until the broader population has access to a vaccine.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said Friday it had filed an application for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as cases skyrocket on the mainland heading into the winter months. Drugmaker Moderna also is expected to apply soon for emergency authorization.

If the two vaccines are authorized for emergency use, officials have said the first shots could come as early as next month. However, the first supplies will be scarce and rationed, with experts warning it likely will be spring before there’s enough for everyone.

“It’s very good news. We are prepared to accept vaccinations from the federal government as soon as they are fully approved,” with a two-dose vaccine initially given to hospitals for first responders, health care providers and the most vulnerable kupuna, Lt. Gov. Josh Green told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii webcast. “We will make it available as fast as possible. We’ll take anything we can get as long as it’s safe.”

What’s more, “hundreds of thousands of doses” would hopefully be available as early as March for other vulnerable residents with chronic diseases. Healthy and younger residents unlikely to develop severe COVID-19 symptoms would be part of the final immunization group.

The state hopes to get as much as 60% to 70% of the population vaccinated in order to reach so-called herd immunity.…

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