Advocates hold drive to boost vaccinations among disabled residents

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 5:35 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 4, 2021 at 9:58 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Harry Yamada is a caregiver for a disabled client.

He helped her arrange for a COVID-19 vaccination, and he’s urging other caregivers and disabled people to do the same.

“There’s a lot of disabled people in our community and in our neighborhoods. It’s our family members, our friends, our neighbors,” he said.

The Hawaii Disability Rights Center is making it easy for the disabled to get vaccinated.

On Saturday, the center will partner with Hawaii Pacific Health to hold the first of two free COVID-19 vaccination drives at Waikele Center in the parking lot near Petco.

HDRC executive director Louis Erteschik said transportation arrangements can be made for the disabled who need it.

“The main thing is it’s really important to get this done for people with disabilities who are at higher risk. If they do get COVID and they’re not vaccinated, they’re much more likely to have a negative result,” he said.

The event is ADA accessible and volunteers will be there to lend a hand.

“They can assist them if they’re blind or have any kind of visual impairment, or an intellectual disability. Our staff knows how to work with this population. We’re going to have an ASL interpreter for people who are deaf or hard of hearing,” Erteschik said.

Chuukese and Tagalog interpreters will also be present.

The vaccine drive targets the disabled, but is open to all. Adults 18 and older should bring along identification. Those who are 12 to 17 years of age must have a parent or guardian present.

“Hawaii Pacific Health emailed us late last night and said that they have 220 people signed up for an appointment. We’re really happy about that,” Erteschik said.

No appointment is necessary. You can just show up and choose the two-dose Pfizer vaccine or single dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

If you’re disabled and can’t make it Saturday, HDRC will go to your home. That’s what Yamada’s client chose to do.

“It’s all free. It’s a win-win,” he said.

The vaccine event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information call the Hawaii Disability Rights Center at 949-2922 or send an email to

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