Travelers to Hawaii will now have to show proof of having received the coronavirus booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated.
Under the state’s current “Safe Travels” program, visitors to the state must quarantine for five days or test negative for the coronavirus within one day of travel if they are not fully vaccinated, which previously meant two doses of the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The new guidelines will now include booster shots in order for people to skip quarantine.
Speaking to Hawaii News Now, Gov. David Ige (D) said the new guidelines will not be implemented for another two weeks, allowing visitors to adjust.
“We know that the community needs time to react to that, so we would have to provide at least two weeks for those who may not be up-to-date to go to have the opportunity to go and get vaccinated if they need to,” he said.
Ige added that he will discuss with county mayors about whether or not to require booster shots for access to restaurants, bars, and other venues. Ultimately, he said those decisions will be left to local municipalities.
Last month, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino announced that booster shots would be required for locals to be considered fully vaccinated, according to ABC News. The new rule was later postponed to go into effect on January 24 in order to give people more time. Victorino said:
The good news is that most medical providers are seeing a noticeable increase in demand for booster shots in Maui County for people of all ages. Many parents are eager to get additional protection for their teens. Postponing the effective date will give residents and providers additional time to respond to the CDC’s new guidance.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the definition of fully vaccinated still has not changed beyond the initial doses, adding that booster shots render a person’s vaccination status “up to date.”
“Consistent with how public health has historically viewed or even talked about how we recommend vaccines, we are now recommending that individuals stay up to date with additional doses that they are eligible for,” said CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
“The technical definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ — two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of the J & J vaccine — has not changed,” CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund emphasized. “Individuals are considered fully vaccinated once they have received their primary series.”