HONOLULU (KHON2) – Governor David Ige confirmed to KHON2 that a COVID booster shot requirement will soon be added to the Safe Travels program.
“I do not have a specific date to tell you at this time, but we expect to be able to announce it within the next few days,” Governor Ige said.
The requirement will mean that travelers to the state of Hawaii must have their COVID booster shots to circumvent quarantine. The second option for people who have not been vaccinated or who have not received their booster would be to have a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before departure.
KHON2 asked the governor why the requirement has not yet been implemented. He replied and said that it is a logistics problem with Safe Travel’s website.
“It’s a matter of updating the Safe Travels platform and being able to accept the third vaccination,” Ige explained.
The governor said the website is being updated now so it can automatically approve boosters. He wants to avoid bottlenecks at Hawaii airport screening stations.
“Just as you were required to enter the information you know, your name, the location of the vaccination and the date and what vaccine was given, it would probably be a similar feature for the third shot,” Ige said of how it updated website would work.
Currently, the CDC recommends getting a booster 5 months after your last Moderna or Pfizer dose.
Governor Ige said his team is still working on ironing out the details of how the booster shot requirement would work and be implemented in the Safe Travels program.
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“We know there has to be a grace period,” he said when asked what people who are going on a trip but are not yet able to get the booster should do.
Receiving a negative COVID test is still another option to circumvent quarantine for unvaccinated people and those who do not get a booster shot, Ige said.
The governor said adding the booster requirement is part of his plan for full economic recovery and another part of that plan is to bring international visitors back.
“We continue to have dialogue with Japan, with South Korea, with Canada, with Australia,” Ige said. “We are working really hard to get it restarted and I expect that by the end of the year, international travel will be back to normal.”
The pandemic highlighted Hawaii’s need for more health workers, according to Ige. He hopes expanding a paid internship program for high school and college students will help.
“They have the opportunity to work with professionals and get an idea of what the job might be so they can be inspired to pursue them,” he said.
Ige will also create more jobs for newly graduated nursing schools.
“We want to work together to create ways in which newly graduated nursing schools can get internships or other types of programs so they can have the experience that our hospitals are looking for,” Governor Ige said.