Last month, threatened by an omicron tsunami, Hawaii Governor David Ige said the Aloha State would be updating its travel protocols to include a booster shot, allowing visitors who have received their third Covid shot to bypass quarantine without needing to present a pre-travel test.
Yet even before that change could be implemented, Hawaii appears to have surfed the omicron wave to relatively safer shores. Since Covid infections peaked on January 21, Hawaii has seen the number of new daily cases plummet from 350 to 78 per 100,000 people, according to the Covid tracker run by the Brown School of Public Health.
As a result, Governor Ige announced yesterday that Hawaii’s travel protocols would remain as they are. Travelers will not need a third shot to be considered “up to date” on vaccinations.
“We considered declining Covid-19 case counts in Hawaii, the continental U.S. and Europe. Hospitalizations have also dropped. In addition, we looked at Hawaii’s robust vaccination rates and the continued push by businesses and organizations to get their employees vaccinated and boosted for the safety of their families and the community,” said Governor Ige. “At this time, we will also maintain the indoor mask mandate and other rules that have helped us manage this pandemic while reopening the economy.”
Under the Hawaii Safe Travels Program, travelers arriving into the state are required to show proof of their vaccination status in order to bypass pre-arrival testing or the five-day mandatory quarantine. Being “up to date” on vaccinations means having received two shots of the Modern or Pfizer vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As of today, 73% of Americans age 12 and over meet that definition, according to the vaccine tracker from the Brown School of Public Health. Comparatively, 86% of Hawaiians are “fully vaccinated” as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Hawaii’s health authority did not close the door on requiring boosters for visitors in the future. “While booster shots are not required for the Safe Travels program right now, they continue to be very effective in preventing severe illness from Covid-19,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of Hawaii’s Department of Health. “New research shows a third shot of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine is 90% to 94% effective in keeping people out of the hospital. Omicron case counts are dropping but we don’t know if or when we may see another surge in cases of Covid-19. Getting vaccinated and boosted now will help to prevent you from becoming seriously ill. The Department of Health recommends you get vaccinated and get boosted today!”
Travelers to Hawaii must upload a vaccination record document to the Hawaii Safe Travels website, print out a receipt prior to flying to Hawaii, and have a hard copy in hand when arriving in Hawaii. “The State of Hawaii will also accept vaccine records that are digitally validated by Digital Health Pass Partners (AZOVA, CLEAR and CommonPass),” says the website.