Drive-through service for seniors: Flu shots, health screenings, medical info available at county health fair

  • UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy student Kellen Sakamoto, right, gives Kip Kauka a flu shot during the drive-through Akamai Living Health Fair at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo on Friday. (Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

  • Onan Masaoka, right, tells a driver they are a winner of a prize during the drive-through Akamai Living Health Fair at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Three small prizes were given out every 30 minutes. (Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

The 20th annual Akamai Living Health Fair thrived as a drive-through event for seniors in East Hawaii on Friday morning.

Volunteers with the Department of Parks and Recreation and Hawaii Medical Service Association gave out prepacked informational bags with brochures and goodies to people driving by Hilo’s Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

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The Parks and Recreation’s Elderly Activities Division collaborates on the event with insurance provider HMSA to highlight community resources and services available to older adults. Participants could get a free flu shot and health screening at the Butler Building.

“Because of COVID-19, we wanted to come up with something creative to give back to the seniors,” said Roann Okamura, the director of Elderly Activities. “Some of them have been at home for over five months and need some activity.”

HMSA came up with the idea to give out bags full of information and activities in a drive-through fashion and Onan Masaoka, program director for Elderly Recreation Services, helped put it together.

“We’re hoping to give information to at least 500 people today,” Masaoka said. “The first 45 minutes were nonstop, so that was nice to see.”

The event usually takes place at the Edith Kanaka’ole Multi-Purpose Stadium, which allows attendees to walk around different booths where they can get information they may need regarding their health and well being.

After the COVID-19 pandemic reached the six-month mark in September, Parks and Recreation announced that in-person Elderly Recreation Services classes were canceled for the fall quarter to help protect kupuna.

Although they anticipate resuming classes on Jan. 4, ERS wanted to give seniors a reason to safely come out in the community and get necessary health information.

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“We are always committed to the seniors we serve and this is our way of doing some semblance of our annual event,” Okamura said.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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