COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus Visits Hawaii Schools to Get Students and Families Vaccinated

Illustration of Hawaii Pacific Health Vax Squad bus

Photo Credit: Hawaii Pacific Health

In early May, after the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved for children ages 12-15, Hawaii Pacific Health, based in Honolulu, began visiting schools with its mobile vaccination unit: a retrofitted tour bus staffed with medical and clinical personnel and offering free vaccinations to students ages 12 and older and their family members.

This mobile vaccination clinic is called the COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus.

During one Saturday in mid-May, more than 400 people — including about 360 students — were vaccinated by health professionals staffing the COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus. All vaccines administered have been the Pfizer shots.

Talking to HawaiiNewsNow, Shilpa Patel, M.D., Hawaii Pacific Health’s physician liaison for quality and patient safety, cited the convenience of getting the shots in a familiar location via the Vax Squad Bus. “We’re bringing it to the people who already want to get the vaccine but don’t have the time to get to a vaccination site such as Pier 2,” Patel said. “We’re also making [the vaccine] available in most of the other high school areas for community members who want to walk in and at the spur of the moment get it.”

Nearly 3,000 people have been vaccinated by the COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus, which has visited more than a dozen schools.

At Punahou School in Honolulu, the first private school visited by the COVID-19 Vax Squad Bus, about 90% of students already have returned to in-person learning. School president Mike Latham explained the importance of getting students and adults vaccinated. “The real benefit, I think, is coming up in the fall, and if we have a population that is increasingly vaccinated — faculty, staff, students — that just means we can move even further back into the full range of activities that kind of define the nature of student life on campus,” he told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Hawaii residents can schedule a mobile vaccine clinic appointment on the Hawaii Pacific Health website.