Kona Community Hospital will expand vaccinations to community members over age 75 starting this week.
The facility said it is moving to Tier 1B in alignment with the state Department of Health’s vaccine distribution plan and will begin registering kupuna over age 75 on Tuesday to receive the first of two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.
People in that age group can begin the scheduling process by calling Kona Community Hospital’s registration line at (808) 322-4451 between 8 a.m. and noon starting Tuesday. The line will be manned by a hospital employee Monday through Friday who will register callers into the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System, and then schedule an appointment.
Additionally, a dedicated email address will go live Tuesday for questions. Community members with questions can email KCHCovidVaccine@hhsc.org.
Vaccinations will begin Thursday with the first kupuna receiving their shot between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Starting Feb. 6, the facility will offer kupuna vaccinations from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both Thursdays and Saturdays.
“Our hospital team has been working closely with our partners at the State Department of Health and the Hawaii District Office for State DOH in preparing to open our clinic to seniors in the Tier 1B group,” said Lisa Downing, RN, Infection Prevention and Employee Health Director. “We appreciate our community’s patience as we establish and move into the next phase of our vaccine clinic.”
Downing said the clinic will be can handle up to 200 people per day, “if it’s scheduled and controlled.”
The Department of Health will coordinate the vaccines for essential workers who are also in the Tier 1B vaccination group. That information will be provided by the state, the hospital said.
The West Hawaii Community Health Center will play a role in the broader community distribution, said CEO Richard Taaffe. The nonprofit health center is currently awaiting to be designated a “point-of-dispensing” by the CDC to begin vaccination efforts.
Once staff is trained and processes set up, the center will work to vaccinate its patients from all five of its sites. It will then work with the state, county and hospitals to reach out to the larger community and other vulnerable populations, he said.
“There’s a lot of planning going on but no definitive things at this point,” Taaffe said noting the community will be kept abreast of any updates.
Meanwhile, Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea is already scheduling vaccinations for those in the 1B phase, including those age 75 and older as well as essential workers.
According to the hospital, essential workers include first responders; correction officers; dispatchers; critical transportation infrastructure workers, such has harbor and dock workers; teachers, child care and education support staff; staff essential for federal, state and local government operations; and U.S. Postal Service employees.
Call the hospital at (808) 881-4668 to schedule an appointment. Appointments are available Monday through Friday.
The vaccination clinic is located in the annex building on the hospital campus.
Hilo Medical Center will begin offering vaccines to individuals 75 and older beginning Wednesday. People in that age group can begin the scheduling process by signing up on the hospital’s website, www.hilomedicalcenter.org. An individual email address is required.
Because some kupuna might have technical challenges signing up, Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO, Hawaii Health Systems Corp., which includes HMC, said starting Tuesday the hospital will offer a helpline people can call for assistance with registering.
The helpline will be available during regular business hours by calling 932-3000 and pushing 8.