Photo above courtesy Caroline Freudig. Featured photo courtesy Kayleen Pieper.
Educators across the state begin receiving vaccine
HIDOE employees can sign up online for vaccinations
Message to Membership from HSTA, Jan 14, 2021
Teachers across Hawaii began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine over the last week. Members reported an easy process and minor side effects, if any.
Kayleen Pieper, a kindergarten teacher at Maui’s Kamalii Elementary School, received her shot Friday, Jan. 8.
“It was quick, easy, and painless,” Pieper said. “It was the typical pinch of any other vaccine but didn't hurt. I sat for 15 minutes to be monitored, and then was good to go.”
The only side effect Pieper experienced was a sore arm, which she called “nothing extreme,” and was gone within two days.
“I would 100% recommend the vaccine to others,” she said, “unless their doctor says otherwise, of course.
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“I am so relieved to have gotten the vaccine, for my young daughter, my immunocompromised neighbor, my friends, and my kindergartners. I am due to have students back face-to-face in February, and I feel way less anxious about it now. This vaccine is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel,” Pieper said.
Maui High School math teacher Jodi Kunimitsu and her husband, Lester, who teaches graphic design at Baldwin High, received vaccinations Sunday.
“For us, it's about protecting our family, our students, and our community. We know that we must contain the virus and slow the spread in order to return to a 'normal' way of living,” Kunimitsu said.
“We needed to fill out a questionnaire that would verify our employment. By the way, our school later told us that when doing that part of the process, make sure to write the school name, not Department of Education. This way, they can verify that you are a school-level employee,” Kunimitsu advised.
The Kunimitsus received their shots at the Maui Memorial Medical Center, where she said, “everything went really smoothly.”
“As for side effects of the shot, I did not experience anything except that my arm was sore that evening. It was similar to getting a flu shot, but maybe a little more sore. It kind of felt like someone punched me in the arm and it was really bruised. I felt it the most that evening, approximately 12 hours after I took the shot. However, I went to sleep and when I woke up the next morning, I couldn't feel any pain,” she added after getting the Pfizer vaccine.
“It gives me a sense of relief,” Kunimitsu said. “I am also hopeful that as more people get the vaccine, there will be less spread of the virus and that we will be able to start opening up the economy more. I am really looking forward to the day when I can travel to Kaua'i and visit my family. I am glad that my 95-year-old grandmother and my father, who has underlying health conditions, will soon be able to get their vaccines as well so that we can all be together again.”
Kauai HIDOE staff started receiving shots Monday (Jan 11, 2021)
Among the Kauai educators immunized Monday was Caroline Freudig, a teacher at Kalaheo Elementary and HSTA’s Kauai Chapter president, who said she decided to “get the vaccine to help make our community safer.”
She said the next day, her arm “was a little sore, but not bad.”
“I did check with my specialist prior to getting it to make sure it would be okay with the medications I’m on and because I’m immune-compromised. I highly encourage our community to get vaccinated so that we can contribute to a safer environment in our schools, and so that we can get the students back in the classroom every day,” Freudig said.
Sarah Tochiki, the band director at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, said, “I am especially grateful that they made educators so high on the priority list for getting the vaccine.
“My arm is a little sore, but I feel fine,” Tochiki said after receiving her vaccine Monday. “The doctor who gave me the shot is actually one of the members of the group I teach at KCC (Kauai Community College) and I felt very comfortable getting it.
“Having the vaccine means I can get back to working with students in the classroom with an added level of protection. We are blended this semester and I am so excited. I really want them back in school. Teaching through a computer is not the same as being in the same room, learning together. I hope everyone will get the vaccine,” she said.
“With the advances of science and technology, scientists were able to create something in record time and I trust them,” Tochiki added. “I am also grateful for the educators who taught these scientists so they could make the vaccine.”
HIDOE employees, substitutes can fill out surveys to get vaccine
HIDOE employees wanting access to the COVID-19 vaccine should fill out this department survey as soon as possible. Submissions will be provided on a rolling basis as of Jan. 15 to the Hawaii State Department of Health. Active HIDOE substitute teachers can fill out this survey.
Once information is provided to the DOH, employees can expect to receive further information on opportunities to schedule vaccines as they become available. This may include direct scheduling with the DOH, a regional health care provider, or an HIDOE partner site. Please keep in mind that timing will vary for all employees.
For tech support-related questions on completing the survey, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently asked questions and general information on the vaccine are available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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