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This message was shared with faculty and staff of the 10-campus University of Hawaiʻi system on February 26, 2021.

Aloha UH ʻohana,

We have made great progress in our efforts to assist the Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) with the vaccination of our UH employees, including student employees. The expectation is that the largest UH essential worker priority group, the 1B-3s, will be contacted within the next few days by one of the third party health care providers working with DOH to schedule vaccination appointments.

The 1B-3 group principally includes faculty and staff who may be teleworking but are essential to university operations and resumption of in-person education after the spring 2021 semester. The email invitation for our UH employees on Oʻahu may come from any of the Queen’s Health System (Blaisdell Concert Hall), Hawaiʻi Pacific Health (Pier 2), Adventist Health Castle, Kaiser Permanente (Nanaikeola Clinic), or the City and County of Honolulu (Leeward Community College). Please monitor your email daily and respond quickly.

We do NOT have flexibility or influence on the location to which you are assigned. In addition, UH does not have access to the appointment schedule of the third-party registration systems and we cannot make or change scheduling of appointments, which you must do yourself. As the appointment slots are limited, please do your utmost to rearrange your schedule in order to make one of the available appointment times offered. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to get you invited as part of the UH ʻohana again, so if you miss this opportunity you may need to wait until the vaccine is more widely available and you fit into the priorities for availability to the general public. UH employees are eligible for up to two hours of administrative leave (per dose) to take the COVID-19 vaccine during normal work hours, as operations permit (contact your HR representative if you have questions).

If you already have a confirmed appointment elsewhere, please disregard any new emails you receive about scheduling an appointment. If you have not received your second dose, please ensure that the vaccination provider that you are scheduled with will be providing the same vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna) that you received for your first dose. Please contact covid.vaccine@doh.hawaii.gov with any questions or issues regarding second dose appointments, in particular.

The State and the DOH classified UH employees in the 1B priority group because of the recognition of how important it is to Hawaiʻi and our students that our 10 campuses return to more normal operations and more in-person instruction as soon as possible. COVID-19 safety precautions will continue to be necessary for many more months, but the sooner UH and the State can achieve vaccination of a large majority of our adult population, the sooner we can resume larger group activities on our campuses and in our communities. As of this week, we believe approximately 5,000 UH employees have either received or been offered their first dose of the vaccine and about 2,000 of those have received their second dose.

Even as we work our way through the 1B-3 group of UH employees, we are planning the stages of how to best vaccinate our students as expeditiously as possible. There is encouraging national news as the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine appears close to approval. No matter which approved vaccines are available, UH will continue to work with DOH until everyone at UH who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine does. At this time, there is no mechanism for individuals to “request” which approved vaccine they prefer. All are highly effective in preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death. As has been widely noted, the best vaccine for you is the one you can get.

We are encouraged that all signs point to our campuses being able to come together in the fall, a milestone that we have been anxiously awaiting, as we all understand the toll that being apart has taken on our students, faculty, staff and community.

We respect the fact that some in our UH ʻohana have concerns about these vaccines. Getting vaccinated is a personal decision that must and will be respected. We encourage everyone with questions to review the excellent resources from our state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the meantime, please continue to follow the basic COVID-19 prevention steps even after you are vaccinated: stay home if you’re ill, wear a face covering, practice safe physical distancing, avoid large gatherings whenever possible, check your health daily with the LumiSight UH app, and download the AlohaSafe app to your mobile phone.

Mahalo for your time and attention,
The UH Vaccination Team
covid19@hawaii.edu