comscore Kokua Line: Online survey gauges vaccine needs for essential workers in government, private sector | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Online survey gauges vaccine needs for essential workers in government, private sector

                                Vehicles drive up at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Pier 2 on Jan. 18.


    Vehicles drive up at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Pier 2 on Jan. 18.

Question: There’s been all this information about signing up the retired kupuna, which is great, but what about the front-line workers who are out there serving the public? They have to work — we need them to work — and they don’t get to work from home. They are exposed. … Retirees for the most part can stay in and protect themselves. Let’s not forget the people who aren’t medical workers (who’ve already gotten the vaccine if they want it) and aren’t over 75 (who are getting the vaccine now). These are the everyday working people we all depend on! Hurry up and vaccinate them too!

Answer: Kupuna 75 and older are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination because they run a much higher risk of dying of the disease if they catch it. In Hawaii, people 70 and older account for less than 10% of COVID-19 cases, but 64% of the deaths, according to the state Department of Health.

The need to quickly vaccinate health care workers also is clear, because of their potentially increased exposure in the workplace and the need to keep them on the job throughout the pandemic.

Still, we’ve heard similar concerns from other readers, especially as word spread that one of the mass inoculation sites had been vaccinating adults who escorted kupuna to their appointment, regardless of priority status. That’s ending, at the health department’s behest.

Getting to the heart of your question: Some frontline essential workers — beyond emergency first responders and health care workers already prioritized — are being vaccinated now, during Phase 1b, at events sought by their employers or industry associations, according to the health department.

The department wants to hear from businesses, government agencies and other organizations with essential workers so that it can allocate vaccine supplies. It posted a survey online to gather information, at Or employers can find the link at vaccine/.

We’ve heard from numerous readers whose work puts them at heightened risk. They should point their bosses to the survey. Individual workers can’t fill it out themselves.

The survey includes links explaining what types of workers qualify as essential; it’s a broad spectrum. In general, these are people who must work on-site (not from home), in close proximity to other workers or customers, and whose jobs are vital for society to function normally. For example, about 500 employees at the state Legislature qualified, even though the Legislature is largely closed to the public during the pandemic.

The state doesn’t have enough vaccine to cover everyone eligible for Phase 1b at this point. However, the survey responses will help officials organize the allocation now so they’re ready when more supplies become available.

Q: With the new rule about getting tested to enter the United States, can you quarantine if you don’t get a test?

A: No. The rule that took effect Tuesday governing international air travel to the United States requires all passengers ages 2 and up to be tested for COVID-19 within three days of the flight and to present proof of a negative result before boarding the plane, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The order applies to American citizens and legal residents as well as to international visitors.

“Air passengers traveling to the US are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or documentation of recovery for all passengers before boarding. If a passenger chooses not to present a test result or documentation of recovery, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger,” it says.

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

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (6)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up