Hawaii to permit vaccinated Interisland vacationers to skip quarantine beginning Could 11th

Starting May 11, island hopping will be easier for people who can show they have been fully vaccinated in Hawaii.

Governor David Ige announced Tuesday that fully vaccinated Interisland travelers will not have to undergo the otherwise mandatory quarantine and testing procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But transpacific travelers have to wait.

State officials hope to extend the exemption to travelers from mainland and other countries but have not set a date as a step-by-step approach was required to test the screening process.

“We expect this to happen this summer, but it depends on how quickly they (providers) can connect the networks to get access to vaccination information for all states,” Ige told a news conference.

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The decision came more than two weeks after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their travel guidelines to give fully vaccinated travelers the green light. However, they stressed that other COVID-19 prevention measures, including wearing masks and social distancing, should be maintained.

Ige then set a framework for vaccination exemptions for travel in an emergency proclamation dated April 9, but did not disclose a date and details until Tuesday.

To qualify, travelers are asked to upload valid vaccination documents online through the Hawaii Safe Travels program on the already mandatory travel and health form. Participants will qualify for the quarantine waiver two weeks after their final vaccine dose.

Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines, which received emergency approval for use from the Food and Drug Administration late last year, are not considered fully effective until two weeks after the final dose, according to the CDC.

Hawaii and New York are the only two states that have so far implemented a vaccine screening system. Governors of several other states have publicly declared their opposition to them.

Those who are not vaccinated, including children under 16 who are not yet eligible, must still have a COVID-19 test prior to travel to opt out of the 10-day quarantine rule.

How it works

Private providers like First Vitals, CommonPass, and Clear’s Health Pass will work with the state of Hawaii to verify vaccine information.

Kenneth Hara, the state’s adjutant general who leads the state’s response as director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said the Hawaii Safe Travels portal will begin accepting online vaccination records for flights May 11th starting May 7th, according to Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara.

Travelers must also carry their vaccination card with them. If you lose these, you will have to replace them with your vaccine provider.

Forging the federal document would be a criminal offense, but procedures for validating vaccines outside of Hawaii are still being worked out.

“First, the cards are validated by the screeners at the airport,” said Hara. “Currently, the state is unable to verify people who have been vaccinated from the state.”

Hara said the patient information on the vaccination card will not be shared. The cards contain the patient’s name, date of birth, vaccination date, vaccination type, vaccine lot number and the location where they were vaccinated.

Ige says Hawaii’s pilot program is also looking into ways to check if vaccinations have been received in other countries such as Japan, which was a major source of tourists to Hawaii before the pandemic.

Expanding the program to domestic and international travelers will only begin after the validation processes are complete, he said.

Once the country reaches herd immunity, vaccination exemption may no longer be required, Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“It can be a moot point when most of the country is vaccinated and we are not concerned about widespread fraud,” Green said. “If we were to see large outbreaks of a variant that was troubling or avoided the vaccine, we would probably take a break before moving on too aggressively and using vaccinations as a guide.”

COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious illness or death, but they do not prevent all infections. State officials said people should expect to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing and hygiene measures to prevent transmission.

To date, more than a million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Hawaii.

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