Experts: Mobile clinics, outreach key to next phase of Hawaii’s vaccination efforts

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 6:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health officials say that for the population who still need to get COVID vaccinations, accessibility is key.

Mobile health clinics, outreach and community clinics play a huge role in those efforts.

For more than a month, Consolidated Theatres Kapolei has served as a vaccine clinic run by Kaiser Permamante. The location means residents don’t have to drive to town to get a shot.

“We wanted to have something outside of town,” said Andrew Giles, an assistant hospital administrator for Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.

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“And we all know that Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Filipinos typically are medically underserved with the vaccine. So we want to make sure there is equity with the administration of it.”

As of Monday, there were some 1.26 million vaccines administered in Hawaii. Approximately 51% of the population has been partially or fully vaccinated. On Oahu, the figure is 46%.

Health officials say that proximity and convenience can play an important role in driving up vaccinations, which is why mobile clinics play a huge role throughout the islands.

“We’re trying to bridge the care gaps that people have to get the vaccine,” said Kimberly Gibu, a nurse who is also part of Kaiser Permanente’s community vaccination team.

“So it could be language barriers, transportation, financial, they don’t have wifi. And we’re just trying to make it as easy for folks as possible, bringing the vaccines to where they’re at, in order for them to have access to it.”

Gibu and her team will visit community centers, public housing and even go door-to-door to administer shots. She said the next visit with her team will be at the FilCom center in Waipahu Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vaccinations are preferred but not needed to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“We work with many different entities to vaccinate the people in our housing,” said Hakim Ouansafi, the executive director of Hawaii Public Housing Authority.

“Convenience is important to make sure that we bring these vaccinations to our house.”

And with more appointment slots available than ever, there seems to be a shift in the mindset.

“Now, we’re moving into a group of people who don’t feel that same sense of danger from the virus,” said Dr. Melinda Ashton, the executive vice president and chief quality officer for Hawaii Pacific Health.

“And we are going to have to work differently to get to them, we may need to be more convenient, we may need to really talk about the economic effects of not being vaccinated, the need to quarantine if you’re exposed.”

But the good news is that there is plenty of availability and more walk-in opportunities than ever.

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