Senior citizens age 65 years and over can now get easier access to COVID-19 vaccines, thanks to a new call center created in partnership with public, private and non-profit agencies. The Oahu Kupuna Call Center simplifies the registration process for aging residents who have not yet received their shots due to limited access to technology, transportation or translation services. Seniors and their caregivers can now just dial 2-1-1 and talk to a trained specialist to help answer questions, schedule appointments or request transportation to vaccination sites.
Many of our kupuna have already been struggling with food insecurity, housing and other medical challenges during the pandemic. Those who live alone without access to a computer or family to assist find it especially difficult to get vaccinated. National trends have shown that vaccine accessibility improves greatly when people are able to call a centralized phone number. That’s why the state’s Department of Health – Executive Office on Aging has partnered with the City and County of Honolulu’s Elderly Affairs Division, Aloha United Way and St Francis Healthcare System to establish a dedicated hotline for this purpose.
“We also have language translation services on stand-by so that language is not a barrier for those who call.”
“AUW’s 2-1-1 helpline is a natural fit for this effort because we already provide essential information to Hawai‘i residents of all ages who need local resources like medical care, food banks, legal assistance, and more,” said AUW’s Lisa Kimura. “We also have language translation services on stand-by so that language is not a barrier for those who call.”
“It’s a great feeling to be working on this as a team to continually improve the way we serve kūpuna.”
“The process that we have developed is scalable and has allowed us to ramp up to be ready to serve the large number of those who are 65 years and above,” said Melissa Ah Ho-Mauga of St. Francis Healthcare System. “It’s a great feeling to be working on this as a team to continually improve the way we serve kūpuna.”
While the Kupuna Call Center is currently available only on Oahu, officials are hopeful to expand the service to other islands as more volunteers get trained. If you or someone you know needs help setting up a vaccine appointment, please call the 2-1-1 hotline anytime between 7am and 10pm seven days a week.