Mayor Victorino delays implementation of Maui booster mandate until Jan. 24
Maui Mayor Michael Victorino has postponed implementation of Maui County’s revised Public Health Emergency Rules until Jan. 24.
The revised document changes the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a booster shot, and was originally slated to go into effect Jan. 8.
Mayor Victorino issued a press release update this afternoon saying implementation has been postponed “to ensure eligible adolescents and others have sufficient time to get their booster shots.”
New CDC guidance expands eligibility for booster doses to Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to include use in individuals 12 through 15 years of age. While many employers require employees to get their booster shots, only parents may make that decision for their adolescent children. More information on the CDC’s recommendations is available here.
“The good news is that most medical providers are seeing a noticeable increase in demand for booster shots in Maui County for people of all ages,” said Mayor Victorino. “Many parents are eager to get additional protection for their teens. Postponing the effective date will give residents and providers additional time to respond to the CDC’s new guidance.”
“I want to thank everyone who is stepping up to protect themselves, their families and our wider community by getting a booster shot. I also thank the many businesses that are hosting booster shot clinics on their properties to help employees and their families. Given the highly contagious nature of the omicron variant, boosters are the best way to prevent our healthcare facilities from being overwhelmed.”
Mayor Victorino said Maui County’s rule revisions “reflect rapidly changing conditions in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to protect the health and wellbeing of residents.”
This comes as the state recorded itʻs highest new daily infections since the start of the pandemic today, with 4,789 cases, including more than 700 in Maui County. Hospitalizations on Maui are up 67% in the new year, rising from 12 on Dec. 31, 2021 to 20 in just seven days as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with the current omicron surge.
“In November, the state Department of Health announced that CDC data show the primary series of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines offer significant protection against hospitalization and death, but that protection diminishes over time. Booster vaccinations provide additional protection by re-energizing immunity of initial COVID-19 vaccines,” according to the County of Maui press release.
Dr. Michael Shea, Chief Medical Director at Maui Health explained that the omicron variant is still SARS-CoV-2–the coronavirus that we have been dealing with, but is one of 50 new mutations. In a Dec. 22 press briefing he discussed vaccine effectiveness, citing data out of the UK, saying, “If you had two shots of either of the mRNA or one shot of Janssen, you are only 0-20% protected. The good news is that if you have a booster shot of one of the mRNA vaccines, your protection goes up to 55-80%. Thatʻs a huge difference. That actually gets you to where we were with our original shots with the prior variants.”
“So the number one message–if you donʻt hear anything else I say to you today–get your booster shot. Get it as soon as possible,” said Dr. Shea during the briefing held two weeks ago.
Vaccination and booster clinics are available by appointment and walk-ins may be accepted at some locations. Click here for a list of vaccination locations across the County.
The move to implement a booster mandate for entry to high-risk businesses in Maui County is the only such mandate scheduled to take effect in the state.
Despite the current surge, Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi said, “Weʻre not ready to add on the third booster if you will to Safe Access Oʻahu.” He made the comment during a press briefing on Wednesday saying, “Thereʻs a real inconsistency there if in fact thatʻs not a mandate with the travels by the CDC, and for us to do it locally… Weʻre not ready to mandate boosters.”