The Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Healthcare System is now offering vaccines to all veterans, as well as their spouses and live-in caregivers in Hawaii. Previously veterans aged 65 and up or holding jobs as essential workers were eligible.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill allowing the VA to expand vaccine eligibility to spouses and caregivers of disabled and elderly veterans.

VA spokeswoman Amy Rohlfs said that Hawaii was able to move forward beginning Wednesday, noting that some local veterans have declined to take the vaccine until they can get it with their families.

The VA’s Pacific Island Healthcare System is unique as it shares all of its facilities with other government agencies or works with clinics spread across the islands of Hawaii, as well as in American Samoa, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Its headquarters is at Tripler Army Medical Center and it provides services at the Army hospital’s campus in the Sparks Matsunaga VA Medical Center.

Dose #1 of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in syringe during press event held at Queen's Medical Center as 5 front line medical members volunteered to get the vaccine. December 15, 2020
Vaccines are now available to all veterans, as well as their spouses and caregivers. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

To date the Pacific Island Healthcare System has vaccinated over 11,000 veterans and VA staff members. VA staff have administered vaccines at Tripler, been holding mass vaccination events for veterans in the community and have sent teams to rural corners of the Hawaiian Islands.

VA personnel have also assisted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in administering vaccines to civilians in Americans Samoa. American Samoa has the highest enlistment rate per capita on any U.S. state or territory. Pacific Islanders as a whole serve in the U.S. military disproportionately compared to other demographics, with many recruits coming from intergenerational military families.

Veterans, spouses and caregivers can schedule appointments in Hawaii by calling 1-800-214-1306 and dialing 0. Upcoming mass vaccination for veterans in Hawaii include:

  • Spark Matsunaga Medical Center – ACC Vaccine Clinic starting Monday  (Mon/ Weds/Fri)
  • Keehi Lagoon Memorial: Saturday, April 22, April 27, April 28​
  • Hawaii Neighbor islands community clinics: (Kona – Saturday, KauaiApril 17, Hilo- April 24 , Maui-TBD)​

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