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Community leaders focus on increasing vaccination rate in Leeward Oahu

Published: Aug. 21, 2021 at 5:36 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With Leeward Oahu’s high case numbers, officials say it’s no coincidence Queen’s West Oahu ran out of space.

A day after Queen’s West Oahu declared an emergency because of maxed out resources, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the situation has stabilized with outside assistance.

Green said about 35 to 40% of the people in Leeward Oahu are vaccinated.

When he got to Queen’s West Oahu Friday, he says those racing to the hospital were in respiratory distress with severe symptoms.

“People on the west side need to be smart,” said Green. “They’ve got to listen to the right scientific advice, they’ve got to go get vaccinated.”

For State Representative Stacelynn Eli of District 43, seeing the high COVID case counts in her community has been devastating.

“I have family members and community members who have passed because of COVID,” Eli said.

“I have a handful who are still in the hospital right now.” Eli along with other local leaders organized a vaccine and testing clinic at Nanakuli Intermediate and High School Gym.

By lunchtime, over 150 people were tested and nearly 50 people got vaccinated.

“I’m feeling really encouraged and just amazing,” said Eli. “It was a great turnout.”

Chantelle Matagi, DOH’s Contact Tracer Lead Investigator of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Community said it’s a start to building trust within the community.

“It’s a matter of really addressing misinformation,” said Matagi. “Those things that have been done or mistreatment in the past, and it’s finding ways to address it in a way that’s culturally sensitive to what’s happened to them.” Queens West Oahu’s emergency declaration was a wakeup call to some residents in the west side.

“I was one of those guys to be like, okay, I’m not sure if I want to get it or not,” said Stephen Young of Nanakuli. “My wife is vaccinated, my kids were here today, they also got their vaccines done and so you know, just wanting to do it for the family and just for us to be safe.”

“I was actually on the fence of it, I really didn’t feel like I needed it,” said Alyssa Shea Cueto of Makaha. “I feel like it’ll benefit me in the future because I feel like it’s going to end up being mandated everywhere.”

“So, as well as the safety for myself and my family,” added Cueto.

Green said will take some time for hospitalization numbers to flatten especially with the case counts over 763 on Friday.

“Well, I just like to encourage everyone you know that this is something that we need to get control of,” said Young. “You know, we’re losing on our loved ones out there a lot of family, friends.”

Representative Eli said they are working to organize more pop-up clinics in the west side.

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