Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Hawai´i’s Vaccine Passport Program Opens Tuesday

By Max Dible
May 10, 2021, 9:39 PM HST
* Updated May 10, 9:55 PM
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For the first time in more than a year, island-to-island travel will return to something like normal for much of Hawai´i’s population.

The state’s vaccine passport program for interisland travel begins Tuesday, May 11. Only those who are fully vaccinated and who were vaccinated in the Hawaiian Islands are eligible to participate in the program.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a person must have completed their full schedule of shots — two from Pfizer, two from Moderna, or one from Johnson & Johnson. A total of 14 days must also have passed since the date of the final jab.

The program can only be used by those who were inoculated in Hawai´i because verifying vaccinations remains too logistically difficult to navigate for people who were inoculated elsewhere. There is no singular national database with accurate vaccine information on every inoculated individual.

“People really want to travel, we know that,” Lt. Governor Josh Green said in April when the state announced its plans. “(This) is a travel exception. It is a part of the Safe Travels Program. It is not meant to stop anyone from having their civil rights. It is just (another) way to be safe.”

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Green went on to call the start of the vaccine passport initiative “the beginning of the end” for the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Those who qualify for the passport program do not have to worry about pre-travel or post-travel testing when traveling between islands.

Qualified individuals who wish to participate must create an account with the Safe Travels Hawaii digital platform, complete an online form, then upload a PDF or photo copy of their vaccination card. The physical card must also be on your person while traveling.

Those who do not qualify for the passport program may still travel, though they will be required to adhere to the state’s Safe Travels program coronavirus testing protocol.

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Anyone traveling from the mainland to Hawai´i, whether they are vaccinated residents of the state or not, must still follow the established testing protocol until a more comprehensive system can be put in place.

Governor David Ige noted that Hawai´i, in conjunction with multiple business partners, is developing a working database and the accompanying technology to verify vaccinations performed both out-of-state and out-of-country. There has been no specific timetable announced, though officials have said the goal is to take those pilot programs live at some point during the summer.

According to the state Department of Health, approximately 40% of Hawai´i’s population is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations.
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