Keeping us all safe: Hundreds get COVID-19 vaccine, though demand for shot is waning

  • Nancy Matsukawa hands Merv Hanato a bag of produce after her received his vaccination Saturday at Kealakehe Intermediate school. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Honaunau Market and KTA Superstores donated fresh produce for individuals who received their vaccination Saturday at Kealakehe Intermediate School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

  • Jacob Agard receives his second vaccination dose from National Guard medic Zion Norem Saturday at Kealakehe Intermediate School. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

The Hawaii Department of Health held its second COVID-19 vaccine clinic Saturday at Kealakehe Intermediate School, with the majority of participants receiving their second dose.

DOH Health Educator Jason Dela Cruz said 154 individuals received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the May 15 clinic at the school. On Saturday, 130 of those individuals returned for their second shot.

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The clinic was also open for walk-in recipients, offering both Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Dela Cruz said his staff was offering information on both vaccines so people could make an informed decision on which one to get. Both vaccines are available to those 18 years of age and older, with the J&J only requiring one dose. Eight individuals opted for J&J and 27 chose Moderna. Because Saturday was the final clinic at the school, those requiring a second dose were asked to follow up with a local pharmacy.

Jacob Agard was at the clinic to receive his second dose. The 18-year-old said he decided to get the vaccine not only to protect himself, but others as well.

“I have an elderly family member living in our house and I want to keep her safe,” he said. “I also want to travel this summer and I would like to ensure my safety in public. I also do lots with my church and don’t want to endanger them.”

The Kealakehe High School graduate said he recently got a job in the tourism industry and the vaccine will help keep himself as well as visitors safe.

An unexpected surprise awaited vaccine recipients as they exited the school cafeteria. Honaunau Market and KTA Superstores donated fresh produce, and fresh baked goods from Costco were given out as a “thank you” for getting vaccinated.

Dela Cruz said statewide, 70% of the population age 12 and over have received at least their first vaccination dose as of Thursday. On the Big Island, 67% have received at least their first dose and 54% have completed the vaccination.

Demand for the shot is beginning to wane. In March, the DOH mega clinics held at Kekuaokalani Gymnasium averaged 800 doses a week. On Friday, the clinic at Makaeo Pavilion drew only 30 individuals.

Dela Cruz said it is too soon to tell if the state #HIGotVaccinated incentive program is actually drawing in more individuals.

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“Only time will tell,” he said.

For information regarding vaccination, contact the Department of Health at (808) 300-1120

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