HMC begins kupuna COVID vaccinations

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Jeff Anderson receives the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Eleanor Day on Thursday at Hilo Medical Center.

After vaccinating staff and local health care providers against COVID-19, Hilo Medical Center is now focused on vaccinating kupuna 75 years and older.

Each person needs an email address to start the registration process. Some kupuna might need help, so HMC is encouraging caregivers and family members to help their kupuna schedule an appointment.

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Registration is open online at HiloMedicalCenter.org. Eligible people can schedule their vaccination at any one of the vaccination hubs at Hilo Medical Center, Kona Community Hospital, Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea or the state Department of Health.

Kupuna who are 65 years and older can complete the first step of the registration process at HiloMedicalCenter.org. Pre-registering on the website will hold a place in line to receive an email from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to register for a spot when one becomes available.

According to HMC spokesperson Elena Cabatu, all vaccine supplies are being used by kupuna ages 75 and older until the hospital receives additional vaccines.

“Right now we have a three week supply that will allow us to give 1,000 shots per week,” Cabatu said. “As long as supplies stay stable, we’ll be able to deliver that.”

Jeff Anderson, 77, received the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday afternoon.

“I registered for the vaccine as soon as I heard I could in the news,” Anderson said. “I’m 77, so what do I have to lose?”

Anderson traveled from Hawaii Ocean View Estates to get the shot at HMC.

“This is probably the farthest I’ve been in six or seven months,” he said. “I just wanted to get it out of the way, so I can rest in comfort knowing I can’t give or get the virus.”

Anderson, who has lived in Ocean View 20 years, wanted to encourage other people his age to get vaccinated if they are able.

“I haven’t read anything about people being harmed by the vaccine,” he said. “I think this is a step in achieving a peaceful, content life.”

Anderson received his vaccine from Eleanor Day, a nurse at HMC who has been giving COVID-19 vaccinations since they became available.

“I give about 60-70 vaccines every day,” said Day. “The numbers have started to increase since we’re giving people their second vaccines and more kupuna can come in for their first.”

For those who need additional computer assistance with registering for their COVID-19 vaccination, a helpline will be open from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays. Call 932-3000 and press 8 for help.

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Because of an influx of calls this week, hospital staff urges people to refrain from calling the helpline unless they are 75 or older.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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