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COVID-19 Outreach Team Provide OTC Test Kits and Support to Community-Based Organizations

Over the past year, the 11 community-based organizations (CBOs) that we have partnered with have distributed thousands of over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 test kits during community outreach activities on Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii Island, and Molokai. It has been a consistent need in many communities throughout the state.

HIPHI has been providing the kits for many of our CBO partners since March 2022. In August, we received a large shipment of OTC test kits for this purpose. Facilitated by the Hawai‘i Department of Health, the tests were delivered and held at the Hawaii Convention Center. Aloha Harvest graciously volunteered to move many pallets from the Convention Center to our storage unit. These partnerships have enabled us to provide greatly needed test kits to our CBOs.

HIPHI Outreach Coordinators have also been able to provide support to CBOs in dozens of outreach activities that provided mobile vaccination and testing pop-ups to low-income and minority communities such as Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Filipinos. The vaccination statistics from these events prove its vitality and success, but the stories shared by community members are far more powerful than simple numbers.

The pop-up events have focused on medically underserved areas with low vaccination rates, one of which was Sunset Elementary School, where a mother of two young boys expressed her appreciation for our efforts. She explained that she had scheduled an appointment in Waipahu to get her sons vaccinated until she saw an email from the principal inviting parents and students to an outreach event at the school the night before. She was beyond grateful not to make the long, inconvenient drive for a simple shot. This sentiment by a parent is not unique. It has been expressed by multiple families in different communities who stressed the inconvenience of traveling outside their community to receive vaccinations. These outreach events have created greater access, allowing more people to get vaccinated.

Many other community members across Oahu have also shared their vaccination stories. We have heard stories from energized children who encouraged their parents to vaccination sites, kūpuna who received their second boosters because of concerns for their health, and young adults who were vaccinated to protect their tūtū.

Through this pandemic, we have seen high case counts, skyrocketing unemployment rates, and so much more. It is easy to lose the individual story amongst the overwhelming numbers. Still, these individuals remind us that behind every vaccine administered is a story of strength, community, and family. A reminder that every person counts to get us through this pandemic. 

For information please contact Sairel Labasan at sairel@hiphi.org or Dr. May Rose Dela Cruz at mayrose@hiphi.org

Sairel Labasan, MPH

Sairel Labasan, MPH

Program Manager: COVID-19 Projects Liaison
May Rose Dela Cruz, DrPH, MPH

May Rose Dela Cruz, DrPH, MPH

Director of Health Equity & Research
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