The state is partnering with health care organizations in the islands to kick off a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics for teens and their families at Hawaii high schools.

The push comes as education officials scramble to prepare for a full reopening of schools in the fall. Vaccinations, officials said, are key to that effort.

“Keiki are critically important,” said Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, president and CEO of The Queen’s Health Systems. “We know that they can spread the disease so we know that our ability to vaccinate is important and CDC right now is allowing us from 16 on up to vaccinate.”

Registered Nurse Alexis Lagasca from Kalihi Palama Health Center gives COVID-19 vaccinations at St. Elizabeth Church.
Officials say vaccinations are crucial to ensuring safety so schools can fully reopen in the fall. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Those involved include The Queen’s Health Systems, Hawaii Pacific Health, Kaiser Permanente, Adventist Health Castle, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and the state Department of Health.

“We are doing this as a whole community,” Green said. “Everybody is leaning in.”

The clinics will begin Thursday at Waipahu High School.

“The people that I’ve talked to are interested in getting vaccinated,” said Waipahu High School Principal Keith Hayashi. “I’m hoping that the information that we are putting out to our families will encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“We are hoping that providing opportunities like this at our high school campus at our high school, we can help pick things up and really get individuals vaccinated,” Hayashi added.

The school is in a rotation schedule now, and they hope to have all students return in the fall.

He said Hawaii Pacific Health will be bringing its large vaccination bus on campus Thursday. Eight clinics are planned for next week and 10 the following week.

Queen’s will be running clinics at McKinley, Mililani, Waialua and Leilehua high schools.

Additional details on how teens and their families can sign up will be released soon.

Those 16 and up are eligible for the shot. Health care organizations said the clinics will also be open to family members.

Hawaii high schools spent the entire academic year in full or partial distance learning — in large part because social distancing wasn’t feasible on many high school campuses.

The state hasn’t yet released a detailed plan for fully reopening high schools this fall, but officials have said they are working toward that goal.

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