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First launch of two mass vaccination sites brings relief to Hawaii

With the recent launch of two mass vaccination sites - one at Pier 2 and the other at the Blaisdell Center - we can hope for the return to normalcy in our lives.

On January 18, the first site launched at Pier 2, managed by Hawaii Pacific Health. The week after, on January 25, the second site launched at the Blaisdell Center, managed by Queen’s Health Systems. Both sites ensure that the most vulnerable, including frontline healthcare workers and seniors 75 and older, receive their vaccinations first.

Cherielyne Baldugo, a pharmacist and healthcare worker, is a staff member administering the inoculations at Pier 2. She says the operation has been working well and is amazed at how organized the clinic at Pier 2 has been. “We have such amazing healthcare providers that are teaming together to make the vaccination clinic a huge success. We vaccinate anywhere from 1,500-1,900 people a day, and so far, it has been really great!,” she said.

There are some concerns, though, with the supply of vaccines for future appointments and with the insufficient amount of vaccination sites. “Right now, there is a very high demand for the COVID vaccines, but there aren’t enough to supply it,” Baldugo said. “Pfizer and Moderna can only make so many vaccinations at a time. The government also has to control the allocation of vaccines to numerous hospitals and pharmacies.”

Despite this, Baldugo believes “they [Pfzier and Moderna] are trying their best to get vaccines out to the country as best as they can,” she said. Baldugo and her team also have specific procedures in place to ensure that everyone will eventually get their COVID vaccines. “All we can do now is trust the government and be patient,” she said, “while we go through the different vaccination phases to ensure that the most vulnerable receive their vaccinations first.”

With tens of thousands of shots administered, a positive difference has been made. Our lives may not fully recover to how they were before COVID, but these two vaccination site launches have made one step closer to a brighter life. Although we are currently in Phase 1b of vaccination, which is focused on frontline essential workers and adults 75 and older, even high school students may be able to get vaccinated by this fall.

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