News

Hawai‘i Residency Required For COVID-19 Vaccine

February 4, 2021, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated February 4, 1:56 AM
A
A
A

Big Island Now stock photo.

Confusion around COVID-19 vaccinations has been a staple since they began: What age demographics are eligible? What professions are considered “essential” and where does mine fall in the pecking order? Who is administering the vaccine? How do I register? When will the parameters change?

One question that has been asked less frequently revolves around state residency status: Do I need to be a resident of Hawai‘i to be inoculated against the coronavirus here? The inquiry remains relevant as vaccine demand continues to significantly outpace supply, despite being made available to only a minority percent of the population to this point in the process.

The short answer is yes. Anyone who desires inoculation in Hawai‘i must be officially deemed a resident or return to their home state/country to pursue vaccination.

“Vaccine supplies are provided for the vaccination of residents,” said Janice Okubo, a State Department of Health spokesperson. “An individual residing in the state for at least six months may receive a vaccination.”

The office of Lieutenant Governor Josh Green echoed Okubo’s comments. Neither the department nor the Lieutenant Governor were aware of any exceptions to the rule.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

However, while residency protocol has been established at the highest levels of state government, the established vaccination protocols of administrative entities on the ground don’t necessarily address residency expressly.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

Kona Community Hospital (KCH), wrote in an email to Big Island Now Wednesday that the facility “does not limit vaccination eligibility to address or residency.” A government issued photo identification card is required to receive a shot, but proof of residency is not.

Judy Donovan, a KCH spokesperson, said the hospital has not been contacted by non-residents seeking vaccinations. She added that KCH is unaware of anyone trying to deceive the hospital about resident status — or any other qualifying characteristic, like age or profession — in order to jump the inoculation line.

Such incidents have been reported across the United States and internationally, as people have misrepresented themselves and/or engaged in medical tourism, which entails traveling significant distances to try and procure a vaccination. .

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW AD

As of Feb. 1, KCH had administered a total of 2,252 vaccines (both first and second doses), and vaccinated a total of 449 kūpuna (first and second doses). Kohala Hospital, under the same management umbrella, had administered 144 total vaccines.

As of Wednesday, the state of Hawai‘i had given out more than 171,000 coronavirus vaccine shots, averaging daily shot totals that reside comfortably in the low five-figure range.

Comments

This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments

Newsletters

Get a quick summary of what’s happening on the Big Island with our daily & weekly email of news highlights.