LIHU‘E — Tiani Kajiwara showed off her right arm proudly to her daughter, Tiare, Monday afternoon.
Kajiwara, a Waimea High School teacher, received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall along with over 500 others.
“Our phased vaccine distribution program is in full force on Kaua‘i,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said Monday during the Team Kaua‘i COVID-19 briefing.
Groups vaccinated this week include front-line essential workers, including teachers and staff at schools, preschools and daycares, those working in food or agricultural settings, grocery stores, postal workers and residents of small care homes, Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman added.
“If you are in one of these groups, you will be notified by your employer or industry groups about when and where to go for your vaccine,” Berreman said.
Kajiwara misses her students and hopes this is a step to get back to normal.
Sarah Tochiki, band director at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Lihu‘e, sat at the station next to Kajiwara for her injection and expressed the same wish.
“As a teacher, I want to stand in front of my students and not have to worry,” Tochiki said.
Tochiki described teaching during the pandemic as challenging trying to keep class as normal as possible for students, but there are still countless opportunities to keep students engaged through creative projects.
“Whatever I can do to make sure students are having a positive experience,” Tochiki said.
Over 3,000 people have already been vaccinated on Kaua‘i, according to a county release.
“Vaccines are being offered to specific groups, with pre-registration, at hospitals, at the Department of Health vaccination center at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, and in the case of residential care facilities, at those facilities,” Berreman said. “We anticipate there will be more vaccination opportunities as more vaccines arrive on our island.”
Berreman still urges caution to those with the first round of vaccine dose.
“I wanted to be clear that even if you have already been vaccinated, it is still important to take precautions,” Berreman said. “Kaua‘i can maintain our low rates by continuing to avoid large gatherings, wear masks when outside the home around non-household members, avoid unnecessary travel, and follow state and county rules related to travel, quarantine, and testing.”
Beginning Friday, Jan. 15 and into next week, kupuna over 75 may start getting vaccines with an appointment through three hospitals on island.
For more information on scheduling an appointment at Wilcox Medical Center in Lihu‘e, visit wilcoxhealth.org/vaccine. For information on an appointment at Kaua‘i Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea and Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital in Kapa‘a, visit kauai.hhsc.org.