Inter-Island Vaccine Travel Protocol Program to Launch on May 11; Maui Secondary Test Projected to Start May 4
Beginning May 11, fully vaccinated travelers who received their vaccine in Hawaiʻi may travel inter-county (Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi) without having to take a pre-travel test or quarantining for 10 days. The City and County of Honolulu does not have an interisland travel quarantine order. The announcement was made by Gov. David Ige during an afternoon press briefing.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, who also participated in the briefing noted that people are fully vaccinated on the 15th day following their final vaccine dose. Travelers will need to create a Safe Travels Hawaiʻi account and check county websites for additional requirements.
Those who aren’t vaccinated may bypass quarantine if they get a negative COVID-19 test result from a trusted travel partner under the current Safe Travels program.
“Our state has been doing well in keeping our COVID-19 cases steady and our hospitalizations low, and we are ready to take this next step. I know how important it is to residents to be able to travel to see their friends and family on other islands, and this provides another way for them to be able to do that, safely,” said Gov. Ige.
State officials say Hawaiʻi is one of the first locations to implement a vaccine protocol program, with an operational Excelsior Pass vaccine passport program currently in place in New York.
Both Gov. Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green touted the state’s infection and mortality rates as being among the lowest in the nation. Gov. Ige said it’s because of collective actions that the state is able to reduce travel restrictions.
The state plans to begin with inter-county travel because they are able to verify vaccination status for those who have been vaccinated here in the islands. “This phased approach will allow us to validate the screening process and learn what kinds of bottlenecks and delays that it will inject into our screening process for inter-island travel,” said Gov. Ige, noting that the state will continue to monitor infection rates, and continued to stress that the number one priority is to protect the health and well being of Hawaiʻi’s citizens.
Since vaccinations are currently only offered to individuals ages 16 and older; and kids age 5 and under do not have to pretest–those in the gap between age 5 and 16 will still have access to the state’s Safe Travels program if they want to get a test to avoid quarantine when traveling in Hawaiʻi.
Gov. Ige said the state is conducting pilot tests with Common Pass and Clear in an effort to verify vaccination status for those vaccinated in other states. He said he anticipates expanding the vaccine travel protocol program to mainland visitors in the summer, but expansion is dependent on how quickly the companies can connect with other networks and gain access for vaccine verification.
He said that once Hawaiʻi is able to validate vaccines for travelers on US domestic flights, “the international piece might not be far behind.”
Secondary Test on Maui Projected to Roll Out on May 4
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said Maui still plans to roll out a recently approved second test upon arrival at Kahului Airport for trans-Pacific flights (for both visitors and returning residents, including mainland arrivals). This is projected to begin during the first week of May, on May 4, 2021, according to current timelines.
Further details of the secondary rapid testing program are pending release.
County officials say the post-arrival test will allow Maui County to determine if current safeguards are effective in preventing the introduction of new COVID cases, especially as new variants are being identified on the mainland.
Gov. Ige said it’s part of a “layered approach” in addressing the well being of the community. “Every layer is important to reduce incoming travelers from coming in with COVID-19,” said Gov. Ige, calling the various layers “a balancing act.” He said, at the programs come “at the same time as wanting to encourage our residents to have the ability to travel.”
Hawaiʻi Expected to Approach Herd Immunity Around the July 4th Weekend
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said herd immunity is not an exact science, but anticipates the state will approach that point around the July 4th weekend. “We won’t see a magic light go off,” he said, but said Hawaiʻi would have to get around 75 to 85 percent of the population vaccinated–translating to 1.8 to 2 million people.
He said that with herd immunity, the sate can start having more serious conversations about moving forward.
Mayor Victorino said Maui County’s vaccination efforts have been conducted in the remote communities of Hāna, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi, which are closer to achieving herd immunity.
Brooks Baehr, COVID-19 & Pandemic Response Administrative Assistant with the Hawai’i Department of Health tells Maui Now that Lānaʻi has administered a total of 2,606 vaccinations, with 57.9 percent of the population who are eligible for a vaccine, (1,510 individuals) initiating with a first dose. The DOH estimates there are 2,318 people age 16 and older on the island of Lānaʻi.
According to Baehr, a total of 5,451 vaccinations have been administered on Molokaʻi, with 55.6 percent of the population who are eligible for a vaccine, (3,032 people) initiating with a first dose. DOH estimates there are 5,057 people age 16 and above (vaccine eligible) on Molokaʻi.
How the Vaccine Protocol Works: (information provided by state officials)
Vaccinated individuals traveling inter-county will need to:
- Provide a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with name, birthdate, type of vaccine, date(s) vaccine was administered and lot number(s) for each vaccine dose.
- Create an online account and register with the State of Hawai‘i Safe Travels Hawai‘i web program.
- Affirm that they are fully vaccinated, and that the uploaded CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is accurate and authentic.
- Upload a PDF file or digital image of a properly filled CDC Vaccination Record Card to the Safe Travels Hawai‘i web program.
- Bring a digital image as well as the original CDC Vaccination Record Card with you in case you are asked to produce it.
At this time, the State of Hawai‘i is accepting only the “CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card” or a printout from the Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS). Vaccinated individuals who did not receive the CDC card or VAMS printout, must return to the provider that administered their vaccination, for a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. State or territory Department of Health issued cards will not be accepted.
- Travelers age 5 and under may bypass quarantine requirements, provided they are traveling on the same itinerary as a parent/guardian who has met vaccination verification requirements.
- Travelers over age 5 who are not yet eligible for vaccinations may participate in the pre-travel testing program and meet county testing requirements if seeking an exception to mandatory quarantine requirements.
- Travelers ages 16 and 17 who are fully vaccinated should follow the vaccination verification requirements for adults.
- Travelers must continue to monitor for symptoms and must follow local county regulations – wearing a mask, physical distancing and hygiene practices.