Bay Clinic works to vaccinate isle youth

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Haley Rasse, right, vaccinates Lima Naipo for COVID-19 at the Bay Clinic mobile clinic at Ka'Umeke Ka'eo Public Charter School in Keaukaha on Friday.

Bay Clinic’s COVID-19 vaccine outreach efforts are now pivoting to younger age groups.

In recent months, Bay Clinic was among providers that worked to take vaccines to those who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to be inoculated, and have held vaccine clinics in a number of Big Island communities, including Milolii and Keaukaha.

ADVERTISING


In a community outreach effort on May 12, Bay Clinic administered another 130 vaccine doses at Maku‘u Farmers Market, CEO Kimo Alameda said, “then we got asked to go to the schools.”

According to Alameda, Bay Clinic has provided vaccinations at Kamehameha Schools Hawaii, Keaau Middle and High Schools and St. Joseph School. Last Friday, vaccines were offered at Ka ‘Umeke Ka‘eo Public Charter School.

“It’s a bit slower today, but we had a great turn out at Puna Kai on Wednesday,” Bay Clinic COVID-19 coordinator Erin Samura said. “Even if it’s slow, we want to keep coming out to these communities to ease any hesitancy we can.”

“We know that younger group will be our next target population for further vaccination,” Alameda said.

A vaccine from Pfizer has been approved for individuals 12 and older. Vaccines from Moderna and Johnson &Johnson have been OK’d for adults 18 and older.

But Bay Clinic has to figure out how to get vaccines to that age group and decrease barriers to getting the inoculation.

While some of those barriers to vaccination may be the same as those they faced in inoculating older adults, Alameda said research points to vaccine confidence and a sense of “invincibility” being additional challenges in vaccinating younger populations.

Bay Clinic has a three-pronged approach in targeting individuals 12-30, he said.

The first is education.

Alameda said Bay Clinic aims to provide accurate information about the vaccine and dispel “some of those myths youth are exposed to through social media.”

The second prong is to incentivize vaccinations, whether that means less restrictive travel, participation in sports or even a concert, he said. Last week, Gov. David Ige announced HI Got Vaccinated, a statewide program whereby vaccinated residents can receive deals, discounts and prizes from participating businesses throughout June.

The final approach is to ensure the vaccine is easily accessible.

“Once they get to the point they have confidence in the vaccine, you incentivize them to take (it), we have to make sure we can give it,” Alameda said.

Bay Clinic exists to serve the underserved, he said, but also works in collaboration with other health care providers.

“We know no health entity can do it by ourselves. We need … our community to help in this endeavor,” he said. “I do feel it is super important to be vaccinated. (We) want to make sure that message permeates throughout East Hawaii so we can be a healthier island.”

ADVERTISING


Bay Clinic has administered more than 5,000 doses through its regular vaccine clinic and outreach efforts.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.