March 16, 2021, 4:33 p.m. HST
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted serious and long-standing disparities in public health in Hawaii.
The Ministry of Health released data Tuesday measuring the incidence of COVID-19 in races against the number of people vaccinated in that population group. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders had the least encouraging numbers, with less than 9% vaccinated in each group. Native Hawaiians make up 21% of the state’s population and have recorded 19% of the state’s COVID-19 infections, while Pacific islanders make up just 4% of Hawaii’s residents but have suffered 22% of confirmed coronavirus cases.
PC: Hawaii County
African Americans in Hawaii have the lowest vaccination rate at 6.4% on Tuesday. Approximately 19% of white residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 25% of the Asian population have been vaccinated. More information can be found here.
“We value health equity for all people in Hawaii,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, Acting State Epidemiologist. “Although the ministry’s health report and vaccine administration data are new, health differences have long existed in disproportionately affected communities. These data underscore the importance of our diverse coalition of partners working for these communities. We will all continue to work together to ensure that Hawaii’s response to the pandemic is fair. “
A new report, titled “COVID-19 in Hawaii: Tackling Health Justice in Different Peoples,” describes the racial and ethnic differences in COVID-19 infections and deaths in the state of Hawaii and documents steps taken to reduce transmission across Hawaii State and make recommendations based on lessons from the COVID-19 response. It is expected to be posted on the DOH website on Tuesday.
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The vaccine dates, categorized by race, are updated every day of the week. This data is currently limited due to the federal vaccine registration system which provides a fixed number of race report fields. DOH said it was taking steps to improve data collection to disaggregate that data in the future.
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A group of diverse community partners and DOH are using federal and state resources to expand reach to these various communities, the department continued. DOH said in a press release that it has taken the following measures:
- Working with and funding community-level organizations that have native speakers to ensure the reach of the Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Filipino speaking populations (NHPIF)
- Translation of vaccination instructions, consents and public education materials into up to 16 languages
- Training community health workers from the NHPIF communities to be ready to provide government vaccinations
- Build relationships with leaders and representatives of the Pacific Islander faith communities, provide virtual town hall meetings, and answer questions
- The provision of online vaccine datasheets and screening questions in more than 16 languages and materials is updated regularly
- The Public Health Representation in NHPIF and Senior (kūpuna) organized community-based virtual town hall meetings in panel discussions and forums
- Prioritize support to Government Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in preparation for vaccine administration