Hawaii launches limited inter-island ‘vaccine passport’ plan
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s vaccine passport program for inter-island travel has begun.
The program launch allows people who received their vaccine shots in the state of Hawaii to skip testing and quarantine rules for travel between the islands, Hawaii News Now reported Tuesday.
Officials have easy access to state vaccination records that can be quickly verified, so only those who have been fully vaccinated at clinics in the islands can participate. The governor says he hopes to open the program to out-of-state visitors and trans-Pacific travelers later this year.
“We don’t have a firm timeline on trans-Pacific. The challenge is about verification — about vaccination done in other states,” Gov. David Ige said. “We’ve been working with a couple of other private sector partners about working to get access to the state vaccination records, and we believe that that would help them to get vaccination records in other states as well.”
People participating in the program must be more than two weeks out from their final COVID-19 vaccine shot.
Health officials report about 40% of Hawaii’s population is fully vaccinated.
Anyone flying into the state still has to produce a negative COVID-19 test to bypass a 10-day quarantine rule.
Travelers participating in the vaccine passport program can upload their information to the state’s “Safe Travels” website, the same platform currently being used to verify COVID-19 test results for all travelers. They can also bring their vaccination card to the airport if they have trouble or don’t have access to the website.
Anyone caught with a fake vaccination card is subject to hefty fines, jail time or both.
The program launch comes as some residents say the state should loosen other coronavirus restrictions, but Ige is being cautious.
“The number of cases that we see continues to be higher than we would like, and every case now is the opportunity for the virus to mutate and change,” said Ige.
Epidemiologist Dr. DeWolfe Miller, who has worked with the state on its coronavirus response, agrees.
“If you don’t go to that last little extra bit to wipe it out and stamp it out, that little brush fire can blow out of control in a second,” Miller told Hawaii News Now.