comscore Kokua Line: Kupuna living at home or in small facilities fear falling through the cracks of vaccine’s rollout | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Kupuna living at home or in small facilities fear falling through the cracks of vaccine’s rollout

Question: I keep seeing on the news about vaccinations at care homes, but what about those of us who care for our kupuna at home? My mom is in her 90s, and she lives with my husband, son and me. My husband is over 75. So both of them (mom and husband) should be eligible.

Answer: “The sign-up for adults 75 years and older (not living in care homes) will be announced soon, possibly later this week or next week. The DOH is working with partners to organize PODs (points of distribution) and create a scheduling system that is accessible and easy to use,” Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said Monday in an email.

A few health care providers already have begun scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments. “Other providers are not far behind. More information will be announced in the coming days by partners, the counties, and by the state,” she said.

People should expect to sign up for an appointment online. For more information, see

Q: My mom is 96 years old and is a ward of the state on Medicaid. She is living in a care home with four other elderly women. Large care homes have been vaccinated. Are the small homes slipping through the cracks? … On TV I saw that teachers and 75-year-olds were getting the shots. The two caregivers in the house are also 75, but they don’t know where to get the shots. Please help my mother and all the other seniors living in little care homes.

A: We’ve forwarded the address of your mom’s care home to the state Department of Health, which says smaller facilities are not falling through the cracks.

Okubo said Tuesday in an email that “the residential care homes are being updated directly by the Office of Health Care Assurance. OHCA has the contact list of all licensed care homes in Hawaii. DOH is working with pharmacies to provide mobile services to smaller care homes. Skilled Nursing Facilities are being vaccinated by CVS and Walgreens on Oahu. The PODs (points of distribution; see previous question) will also provide vaccination to seniors 75+ and eventually seniors 65 to 74 years who can travel there. I know people are anxious to get the vaccine immediately and we are working as quickly as possible on providing vaccinations in a safe and orderly manner. There will be some overlap in the phases and everyone will have an opportunity to receive the vaccine.”

Q: I am a licensed nurse who fills in as needed (vacation relief plus usually a day a week throughout the year) at an office where the physician runs his own practice. His staff (including me) have not been vaccinated. How do we get the ball rolling?

A: Your boss should have filled out a survey alerting the state Department of Health that staff of his independent practice need to be vaccinated. It’s not too late to provide the information, at

Like other health care workers, independent licensed health care professionals and their office staff are designated as “high-risk health workers” included in the first phase (1-A) of Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccination schedule. Vaccinations for this group began in mid- December.

Q: I am a health care worker who could have gotten the shot in December, but I didn’t want it at that time. Now I do. Is it too late for me to take my priority? My hospital already did its vaccination program.

A: No, refusing the COVID-19 vaccine when it was first offered doesn’t disqualify you from getting it now, but you should speak directly with your employer about availability, according to the Health Department.

As you know, health care workers were vaccinated in Phase 1-A, receiving their first dose in mid-December. That phase, which also included residents of long-term care facilities, is expected to wrap up this month. Many people in this population have already received their full dosage of two shots.

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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