Bay Clinic brought COVID-19 vaccines to the community with a vaccination event Saturday in Keaukaha.
Bay Clinic administered the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to 140 people during the clinic in Kawananakoa Gym. The event was open for appointments and walk-ins.
“We wanted to take away all the barriers someone would face trying to get the vaccine,” said CEO Kimo Alameda. “We have seen that transportation, internet access and paperwork are the three major difficulties for people scheduling their vaccinations.”
Staff and volunteers with Bay Clinic supported people throughout the entire process, from registration to scheduling their next vaccine.
“We wanted to build a bridge between the community and access to the vaccine, which is good for all of us,” Alameda said. “Taking the vaccine directly to the people seems to be the best model to follow with this second phase of vaccinations.”
Iwalani Kalima, a teacher and resident in Keaukaha, received her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine after struggling to make her own appointment for months.
“I was so happy to see this event happening right in my neighborhood,” said Kalima. “Even though I was eligible to receive the vaccine, I was still having the hardest time scheduling an appointment for myself, so I jumped on this when a friend sent it to me.”
Live music from local groups entertained people as they were vaccinated, bento lunches were offered to people as they left and Bay Clinic gave away prizes with multiple raffles throughout the day.
“This is right next door to me, so I felt like I had to take the opportunity,” said Franane Figueroa. “It’s so nice to see musicians from my neighborhood here, too.”
Since most people older than 18 are eligible to get the Moderna vaccine, Bay Clinic wanted to create a fun event to incentivize people of all ages to come out.
“If we can build trust with the community and make this process easier, more people will want to be vaccinated,” Alameda said. “This is new territory for all of us, but I’m feeling excited and positive that this is the way to go.”
Sierra Grammer wasn’t thinking about getting the COVID-19 vaccine until she saw the opportunity right down the street.
“It didn’t hit me to get the vaccine until I heard about this event,” said Grammer. “I realized I needed to get it now. It’s important to me since I have children at home to protect.”
Bay Clinic helped all 140 of those getting shots Saturday schedule their second appointments and arrange rides to their Hilo clinic for when the time comes.
Email Kelsey Walling at firstname.lastname@example.org.