HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi recently proclaimed May 6 as a day to honor of the Kupuna Vaccination Outreach Group (KVOG) due to 100% of those 65 and older being vaccinated in the City and County of Honolulu.
According to the State Department of Health (DOH), 100% of those 65 or older have completed their initial series of the COVID-19 vaccination. Mayor Blangiardi said this is due in large part to the work of KVOG.
KVOG is a public-private coalition of over 50 organizations that work together mobilizing support for vaccine access ensuring no kupuna is left behind.
“But boy, there were days. There were days of really difficult moments and real fear,” said Blangiardi. “Just as we thought we had worked through the worst of it, we worked through our tier system.”
Throughout the pandemic Hawaii has had one of the highest vaccination rates with some of the lowest transmission rates among schools, places or work and worship. Some credit the states strict COVID guidelines, programs and protocols.
“We got through that and so many of our kupuna at that time were protected, and I think that enabled them and enabled us as a city to get through it in the best way we possibly could,” said Blangiardi.
Having the majority of kupuna vaccinated couldn’t come at a better time. Currently, Hawaii, like other states, is seeing a gradual increase in COVID cases. This comes after the state is no longer enforcing mask mandates.
DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr said their current data shows 100% of residents 65 and older have received their first two shots, however, that doesn’t mean everyone 65 and older in Hawaii is fully vaccinated.
“Well, the population estimates are estimates,” said Baehr. “Populations defined by age have shifted over time. We have an aging population.”
He said anyone from outside Hawaii who used a Hawaii address when getting vaccinated shows up on their Hawaii vaccination data, meaning it’s not 100% accurate.
“We do our best to segregate vaccinations given to people from outside Hawaii,” said Baehr. “But those who are not included in our population estimate (denominator) because they live outside Hawaii but use a Hawaii zip-code when getting vaccinated here are counted in our data.”
With the continuous rise in COVID cases nationwide, kupuna are advised to get their booster shots if they have not done so already.
The CDC has moved Hawaii from the low transmission tier to a medium transmission tier. That means COVID is spreading faster among Hawaii communities.
Those living and taking care of kupuna are also advised to get vaccinated, and if feeling sick with COVID symptoms, to quarantine and get tested if available.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
For more information about the current number of COVID cases in Hawaii, head to DOH’s website.