Vaccine clinic in Palolo Homes offers residents direct incentives to boost vaccination

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Published: Jul. 31, 2021 at 5:30 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 31, 2021 at 5:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A local pastor is working to vaccinate those living in Palolo Homes with direct incentives.

Pastor Kevin Kondo of Honolulu Bible Church in Palolo Valley says since the beginning of the pandemic, he went door to door at Palolo Homes working toward establishing trust with residents.

“We’ve been helping them for a long time with face masks, hand sanitizer, food and testing,” said Kondo.

“And then as things surge, then we, you know just naturally, started doing testing clinics, but everything we do is right here in the housing because a lot of people here don’t have cars,” added Kondo.

When vaccinations slowed down, Kondo said it was time to step up their efforts.

He, his wife, volunteers and Project Vision chipped in to offer direct incentives like $25 worth of gift cards to those who get the COVID vaccine.

“When we started with the gift cards, right now we’re at 65%,” said Kondo. “So, we went from 43% to 65%.”

With case counts so high, state leaders, like Lt. Gov. Josh Green who visited the vaccine clinic on Saturday, are pushing for these efforts at Palolo Homes to be replicated in other hard to reach communities.

“I’m blown away by their diligence and their generosity, dozens of people getting vaccinated,” said Green. ”I think that the state should be doing the same thing, $50 gift cards for every shot makes a lot of sense.”

“We’re seeing walk ups today, more than we’ve ever seen,” said Kondo.

The pastor is a long haul COVID patient and said it was also just a natural thing to start vaccinating.

But even that was a challenge.

“We’ve talked to them six, seven, eight times, and they’ve been hesitant, but usually what happens is as one person in the family gets vaccinated and that calms your fears,” said Kondo.

“I’ve been putting it off all this time and finally I took it, I’m happy,” said Chaz Tang of Palolo Homes. “I have a 10-year-old son and for his safety, I decided to get vaccinated.”

Kondo hopes their efforts will be used model for other communities.

He says right now they could use more nurses and translators.

“But from a translator standpoint sure sometimes it’s tougher,” said Green. “We had a lot of members from the Samoan community today, the Marshallese community just a lot of different people here in Palolo so it’s a beautifully mixed integrated community so the Department of Health, should and will send whatever’s necessary.”

“We just want to see everybody get safe, so people aren’t afraid anymore,” said Kondo. “That’s the biggest thing, people are living in fear and we don’t want to see that.

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