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New Case, J&J Vaccine on Hold, Canoe Races Cancelled

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

One new Molokai COVID-19 case was reported by the Dept. of Health last week, bring the island’s total to 35 cases since the pandemic began.

The Molokai Community Health Center (MCHC) had anticipated offering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine starting last week but those plans came to a halt when the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended pausing administering of the the J&J nationally following six cases being reported of rare and severe side effects. Out of the 6.8 million people in the U.S. who received the J&J vaccine, six women between the ages of 18 and 48 developed blood clots, with symptoms occurring six to 13 days after vaccination. No one in Hawaii who received the J&J vaccine has reported blood clots, and the J&J vaccine had not yet been offered on Molokai.

“We’re are pausing out of an abundance of caution. Vaccine safety is of the utmost importance,” said Hawaii Dept. of Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “I still have confidence in the vaccine. These adverse events appear to be extremely rare, but this transparent and deliberate pause ensures the medical community is aware of the potential adverse events.”

MCHC announced last Tuesday it would hold off on the planned Thursday J&J vaccine administration. The Molokai Dispatch’s Sunday press deadline made it too late to include the change in last week’s paper.

The J&J vaccine is paused while the CDC and FDA investigate the cases of blood clots, and no timeframe has been set for if and when it will be re-introduced.

Meanwhile, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines continue to be offered nationwide. MCHC is holding a clinic this Thursday and Friday, open to all Molokai residents aged 18 and older, for the two-dose Moderna shot. For a recommended appointment, call 553-5038, option 1.

Last week, race officials announced the fall Molokai channel canoe races, Na Wahine O Ke Kai and the Molokai Hoe, will be cancelled again this year due to the pandemic. Na Wahine had been scheduled for Sept. 26, and the Molokai Hoe, was set for Oct. 10.

“The spirit of aloha continues to permeate our Hawaii communities as we champion making difficult decisions to support one another and care for the safety and health of our people and visitors,” said Oahu Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association President Lapule Schultz and Na Wahine O Ke Kai President Carleen Ornellas in a joint statement.

“While assessing the ongoing situation and weighing reports provided by medical professionals along with state and county officials, as well as reckoning with lead time for event production and growing financial constraints, it became very clear that proceeding with these races was not feasible nor advisable,” they continued. “In addition, recommending more than 2,000 paddlers and support staff travel from around the world into our fragile communities during this time of uncertainty would be imprudent.”

Six-man canoe paddling is still semi-restricted by county rules.
Organizers of Molokai’s Kulaia canoe festival scheduled annually the same weekend as Na Wahine O Ke Kai, had announced earlier last week that the event would be cancelled to “ensure we keep our community safe.”

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