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Kokua Line: People 65 and older can call 211 for help making vaccination appointment

Question: What can we do to get the vaccine if we don’t use a computer? We constantly hear “go to this website,” but it’s not so easy for some of us kupuna. My granddaughter handled it for me, but some of my friends are giving up. She is trying to help them, too, but she is only one person.

Answer: Although online registration is the primary method for making an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, service is available by telephone, including through the Aloha United Way’s 211 system, which will help people 65 and older make a vaccination appointment and arrange transportation for eligible kupuna who need it, according to the state Department of Health.

People in that age range who can register online themselves (or with the help of a family member, as you did) still have that option, at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccination-registra tion. On the website, scroll down to the “Registration” section for a growing list of vaccination sites throughout the state. When we checked Thursday afternoon, we found appointments available for people 65 and older at numerous Oahu locations — for as early as today.

The availability of appointments — but only for those of a certain age, occupation or health condition — continues to fuel calls for the DOH to relax eligibility criteria, especially now that Gov. David Ige has said Hawaii likely will miss President Joe Biden’s goal of having COVID-19 vaccination open to everyone 16 and older by May 1. Hawaii’s Department of Health announced Thursday that it would broaden the vaccine pool to people 60 and older starting Monday.

Now, back to your question: Recognizing that some people 65 and older are struggling to make appointments, government agencies and community partners created a system to help them. For the kupuna, it starts by calling 211, the Aloha United Way’s information and referral line. Once the recorded greeting begins, press 6 to be connected to the vaccine appointment service, which will receive calls seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

DOH explains how the process works:

“Seniors or family caregivers can simply call 2-1-1 to begin the registration process. Aloha United Way’s (AUW) 2-1-1 team of about 20 trained specialists and supervisors is responsible for the initial intake process. Information is then securely transferred electronically to the St. Francis Healthcare System call center team which will follow up with kupuna who have called AUW’s 2-1-1 within 24 to 48 hours. St. Francis will then help these kupuna schedule a convenient vaccination date, time and location, depending upon the availability of vaccine doses. St. Francis is using a sophisticated Salesforce application to manage and process the information and efficiently manage the scheduling process.

“St. Francis is partnering with a number of vaccination providers, including Hawai‘i Pacific Health, The Queen’s Medical Center, CVS Longs Drugs, Walgreens, and independent pharmacies. St. Francis also arranges for transportation for eligible seniors to take them to a vaccination site, if necessary.”

The kupuna call center can handle about 1,000 calls a day, according to the Health Department; translation services are available. When we tested the system Thursday, we were connected to a representative after only a few minutes on hold.

The service is available thanks to a collaboration among the DOH’s Executive Office on Aging, the City and County of Honolulu’s Elderly Affairs Division, Aloha United Way’s 211 and St. Francis Healthcare System, the Health Department said. Find more information at the top of AUW’s website, at auw.org.

E kala mai

In my excitement to get vaccinated, I dashed across Ala Moana Boulevard toward Pier 2 without looking. Bad move! Luckily, the driver turning with the light was attentive. I am sorry I gave that driver such a scare! — Careless pedestrian

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 kokualine@staradvertiser.com.

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