After more than five months, the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall COVID vaccination clinic has closed its doors. From December through May, starting with 200 vaccinations per clinic and peaking at more than 700 vaccinations in a day, a total of 32,194 vaccine doses were administered to Kaua‘i residents.
Who made that happen? The Kaua‘i community did! Yes, the county provided facility support, and the Kaua‘i District Health Office organized the effort and provided day-to-day management. But the front-line work — the vaccinating, the observing, the making it happen — was a community-wide effort. Mahalo.
More than 100 Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps members volunteered for more than 4,500 hours — some providing more than 100 hours of personal time, to ensure the safety of our community. Volunteers from American Red Cross and Team Rubicon contributed to the volunteer effort. Hawai‘i National Guard medics set a new standard for vaccination efficiency. Kaua‘i Community College nursing students and their professors contributed more than 300 hours of volunteer vaccinator time. Mahalo.
County of Kaua‘i Parks &Recreation staff worked outside of their normal duties to support vaccination efforts at the convention hall. It was an invaluable partnership, and this year has brought county and state employees closer together. Mahalo.
I don’t want to overlook Kaua‘i District Health Office Department of Health staff who contributed many hours of work, above and beyond their usual programmatic duties, to facilitate registration, problem-solve, assist with language and technology needs, and fill unexpected gaps with competence and good cheer.
Led by Public Health Preparedness and Public Health Nursing, DOH staff from every program, from Vector Control to Behavioral Health and everything in between — chronic-disease prevention, laboratory, environmental health, disease investigation, family-health services, developmental-disabilities case management, and administration — contributed to the successful effort. Mahalo.
Local businesses generously donated meals and snacks to staff and volunteers, and in one case an entire weekend day of tubing adventures! Thank you for your consideration of the well-being of clinic staff. Your donations fed them, and fed their hearts.
Community members were equal partners in the success of the clinics. Residents waited their turn, navigated the sign-up processes and gave their generous feedback — almost exclusively kudos and appreciation — to those working in the clinic. Nothing keeps morale high like continuous positive feedback from those you are serving. Mahalo.
Each of you who supported the clinic in any way has reason to feel proud of having been part of a truly historic initiative. And while we all hope we don’t need to repeat the effort any time soon, we are certainly better-prepared with this experience under our belts.
Each of you also has my personal thanks for your contributions. It is my privilege to be the frequent public face of the District Health Office, but the work is done by each of you — staff, volunteers, partners and community members. Mahalo.
The closure of the convention hall mass-vaccination clinic does not mean we are finished with vaccinations. We are moving into a new phase: vaccinations at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies; pop-up clinics in community locations; and soon, mobile vaccination vans and vaccines in your doctor’s office.
As that work continues, for those who contributed to the mass-vaccination efforts at the convention hall, please know that as a result of your efforts, Kaua‘i is a leader in the state in COVID vaccination. Your work is keeping us safe and moving us closer to recovery.
Dr. Janet Berreman is Kaua‘i District Health Officer for the state Department of Health.