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DOH Survey: E. Hawai‘i Residents More Likely to Take COVID Vaccine Than W. Hawai‘i Residents

January 29, 2021, 5:30 PM HST
* Updated January 29, 4:54 PM
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A recent study released by the Department of Health revealed Big Island residents near Hilo were more likely to take the COVID-19 vaccine compared to residents near Kailua-Kona.

These results were part of a statewide study, conducted Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, that surveyed 3,846 people across the Hawaiian Islands. According to the DOH, the overall results showed about half of Hawai‘i residents would take the vaccine while 25% were still deciding. Click here to read the full study.

“The results of this survey confirm what the Department of Health and our partners are hearing on the ground — that there is interest in Hawai‘i for the COVID-19 vaccination,” said DOH Director Elizabeth Char. “As we continue expanding vaccinations to more communities, it’s reasonable to expect that many of those who are undecided will choose to be vaccinated as they see more of their friends, neighbors and fellow Hawai‘i residents receive their doses.”

The study also affirmed that Hawai‘i residents understand and support the need to allow those with the greatest risk from COVID-19 to receive the vaccine first.

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Officials at Big Island hospitals couldn’t speak directly to the survey but noted interest in the COVID-19 vaccine has been high among kupuna 75 years of age or older.

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“The response in that group is pretty overwhelming,” said Judy Donovan, spokeswoman for Kona Community Hospital.

The hospital is now receiving requests from teachers and utility workers to be inoculated. Donovan said about 55% of KCH staff have shown interest in taking the vaccine.

“There is a real dichotomy — younger people are more adverse and older people are eager for the additional protection,” Donovan said.

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Hilo Medical Center Spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said support for taking the vaccine among HMC staff continues to grow. Prior to the release of the vaccine, Cabatu said, about 43% of the health care workers said they would take it, while upwards of 20% indicated they wouldn’t and another 20% were undecided.

Out of the 1,200 employees, 982 have received both doses of the vaccine.

“It’s looking like acceptance is growing,” Cabatu noted among HMC staff. “People are coming around, but of course we’d like to see more.”

Like KCH, Cabatu said HMC has been inundated with calls from kupuna to receive the vaccine.

“Calls have slowed down a little bit, but those reaching out are eager to get it,” the spokeswoman noted. “We’re now four to five weeks out till we can get to (vaccinating) the next group.”

Cabatu added there has been no hesitancy to take the vaccine from the kupuna.

“We do have a lot of kupuna here (in Hilo) who were alive during the life-saving vaccines like polio, shingles and the mumps.,” she said. “They (kupuna) were very adherent and trusting of the government.”

Cabatu said she can see why people would be concerned about getting inoculated because of the misinformation about the vaccine.

The DOH survey was conducted by Olomana Loomis ISC and New York-based Pathfinder. The study also noted the following:

  • Those living in urban Honolulu were more likely to get vaccinated than those in other areas of O‘ahu. Maui County residents were least likely to receive the vaccine.
  • Those in the hospitality, attractions, transportation, senior care, nonprofit, restaurant, healthcare and education industries reported feeling most impacted personally by COVID-19.

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