Hawaii residents traveling interisland may be the first users in the state of a so-called vaccine passport program that is expected to rollout in the next several weeks.
State officials planned to announce more details on what the program will look like and how it will work on Tuesday, Gov. David Ige said Monday during an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight” program.
Interisland travelers to Kauai, Maui and Hawaii counties must receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure or undergo a 10-day quarantine. Under the vaccine passport being proposed, inoculated residents would be able to skip the test and the quarantine.
However, it was not clear when vaccinated visitors from the mainland may also bypass the state’s quarantine rules.
“It gets a lot more complicated trying to verify vaccinations done in other states,” Ige said. “That’s a bigger challenge, but we’re going to start with people vaccinated in the state of Hawaii first.”
Daily passenger arrivals to Hawaii have hovered around 20,000 in the past week, and Ige said trying to monitor everyone boarding flights and moving between islands also poses a logistical challenge for state officials.
Ige said that CommonPass and Clear, two companies contracted to develop the passport program, were working on integrating vaccination records with the state’s Safe Travels program.
“If we can do it electronically, that could really speed (up) a lot of things,” Ige said.
The state also needs to work out a system for tourists from the mainland who want to travel between islands.
Ige didn’t say specifically if that would be allowed or if those types of travelers would have to use a system separate from Hawaii residents. But the governor did say that allowing residents to travel between islands should give the state time to link its systems with national networks that CommonPass and Clear can access.
Ige’s most recent emergency proclamation detailed plans for Hawaii’s vaccine passport. The program must still be approved by the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, Kenneth Hara.
“Schedule your vaccine as soon as you can,” state Health Director Elizabeth Char said in a press release. “We don’t have enough to vaccinate everyone immediately, but you can schedule your shot now. If you can’t get an appointment today, you’ll be able to get one in the near future.”
The health department encouraged 16- and 17-year olds to schedule appointments to receive the Pfizer vaccine, which has received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for those age groups. The Moderna vaccine is recommended for those who are at least 18.
Blaze Lovell is a reporter for Civil Beat and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He was born and raised on Oahu. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @blaze_lovell