Hawaii students and community groups are encouraged to apply for mini-grants ranging from $100 to $2,000 to educate their peers on the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine through campaigns and outreach.

Dubbed “The Vaccination Outreach for Hawaii Students Project,” the initiative is funded by Kaiser Permanente via the Public Goods Project, and co-organized by the Hawaii Afterschool Alliance and Hawaii Public Health Institute.

Michelle Tagorda-Kama, project manager for the Hawaii Afterschool Alliance, said it was important to provide youth-led opportunities to reach out to the target population of children aged five to 17.

“Overall, the goal is to help in expanding vaccine and education and outreach to this age group,” she said.

The Covid vaccine is available to anyone who is at least 5 years old.

Hawaii was awarded $100,000 through this project in late August, and applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. Projects must be completed by March.

Hokulani Elementary School kids. No ID.
In Hawaii, 5% of kids 5 to 11 have completed the two-shot cycle, though 21% of that age group have initiated the process. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

Criteria for the proposals include providing information that encourages students to get the vaccine, engaging people on any vaccine-related concerns and connecting students and families to local vaccination resources.

Applications that fold in “culturally appropriate strategies to reach prospective communities” are encouraged, according to the project guidance.

It encourages projects to emphasize that the vaccines are safe, effective and free regardless of health insurance status; that they protect schools and community and open the door to things like sports and other gatherings like potlucks and concerts.

So far, nine applications have been received, with six approved so far, according to Tagorda-Kama. Accepted proposals include a webinar organized by Waipahu High students aimed at Leeward students and families featuring guest speakers like a pediatrician and state Department of Health representative to ease concerns about the vaccine.

Another project was pitched by art students at charter school Hawaii Tech Academy to create Covid awareness posters inspired by ethnic art and drawings.

Hawaii state health data shows that 68% of 12 to 17 years olds are fully vaccinated, while just 5% of kids 5 to 11 have completed the two-shot cycle, though 21% of that age group has initiated the process. Since many children began receiving their first shot in early November, they would be due for their second shot right around now given the three-week wait between shots.

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