Veterans home with state’s deadliest outbreak begins vaccinating residents, staff

Veterans home with state’s deadliest outbreak begins vaccinating residents, staff

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The first round of COVID-19 vaccinations rolled out at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo on Friday morning.

The nursing facility has had the state’s highest concentration of COVID-19 deaths. Over the course of an outbreak that started in August, 71 residents were infected and 27 died.

Thirty-five workers also contracted COVID-19.

Barbara Dawson-Perry, 81, was the first resident to get the Moderna vaccine on Friday.

She said she was hesitant at first to sign up, but her daughter convinced her and now Dawson-Perry is passing on the same message.

“It’s important, it really is important,” she said, after getting the shot, “I’m glad I did it.”

Dawson-Perry, a widow of a veteran, has been a resident for almost eight years and says the shot gives her hope that life in the home can get back to normal soon.

“Let’s all get vaccinated,” said Gretchen Gamet, a nurse at the facility.

Gamet insisted on being the first staff member to receive the shot. “Reduce my risk of getting COVID so that I can continue to take care of others and protect my family as well,” Gamet said.

Altogether 40 residents and 80 workers signed up.

The home said there will be other opportunities for those who decide to get vaccinated later.

”You can see that staff are excited, residents are excited to get this and to finally, hopefully put aside this COVID pandemic,” said Kaui Chattrand, administrator at the home.

Chattrand is part of a recent change in management and administration the followed the outbreak.

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