HONOLULU (AP) – Hawaii officials allow citizens who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to skip the pre-travel exam and quarantine requirements for inter-island flights.
Hawaii is the second state in the nation, after New York, to introduce a vaccination review program, state officials said at a news conference Tuesday.
The plan doesn’t change people’s ability to travel and avoid quarantine through testing, as is currently required for trans-Pacific and inter-island travel, but adds another option for Hawaiian residents 14 days after their last Vaccination shot are. People must have received their shots in the state to be eligible for exemption.
Hawaii Governor David Ige said the state hopes to add the option for trans-Pacific travelers this summer but wants to test the program among islanders first.
“Since the start of this pandemic, which dates back to March 7th last year, Hawaii has had the best health results in the nation,” Ige said, noting that the state has the lowest infection and death rates in the world belongs to nation.
The program starts on May 11th. Initially, people’s vaccination records are checked manually at airports. Soon, travelers will be able to upload their reviews to a government website that is already being used for pre-travel testing.
Ige encouraged people to get vaccinated as anyone over 16 is now eligible across the state and nation.
Lt. Governor Josh Green said about 2.7 million travelers have come to the islands through the state’s Safe Travels program since it was founded in October. The program calls for travelers to receive a negative COVID-19 test no later than 72 hours before the final leg of the trip to Hawaii. Some islands have required additional testing upon arrival and these rules apply to anyone who is not fully vaccinated.
Approximately 35% of Hawaiian residents have received at least one dose of vaccine.
People who speak out against being vaccinated to travel or get access to certain businesses focus primarily on privacy and security issues. Questions about the retention of personal data and inequality concerns have been raised.
The ACLU said in an article published in March it was not opposed to the idea but had some inequality concerns.
“A system that is entirely digital, be it by design or practical, would be a no-starter because it would increase inequality,” the article says. “Lots of people don’t have smartphones, including disproportionate numbers from some of our most vulnerable communities, such as those with low income, disabilities or homelessness, and more than 40 percent of those over 65.”
Ige said the program will allow people with only physical paper records to participate in the program. He added that private companies that gain access to people’s records must work with the Ministry of Health to ensure the privacy and security of the data.
Several US states, including Idaho, Arizona, and Texas, have banned requiring proof of vaccination for access to certain activities. US federal officials say there are no plans to make vaccine reviews universally mandatory.
In the UK, the government is testing a “COVID Status Certification” system that will allow people planning to travel or attend events to show that they have either received a coronavirus vaccine, tested negative for the virus, or recently had COVID -19 and therefore had some immunity.
Some fear that such passports will benefit people and countries that have more access to vaccines. Many countries, especially the poorest in the world, have problems vaccinating people.
Half of all adults in the US have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Sunday.
However, the head of the World Health Organization said global vaccination rates are “shockingly imbalanced”. The organization’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said while one in four people in rich countries received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries received a dose.
The new rules could help Hawaii’s economy as residents can once again travel to other islands without having to pay for tests.
“The timing is right,” said Mitch Roth, Big Island Mayor. “We are islands separated by miles of oceans, but connected by families, friends and a sense of community. This is really the time. “