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Kaua‘i waiting for state’s lead on vaccine passport

LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i is working on a vaccine passport in coordination with the state.

Mayor Derek Kawakami made the announcement Monday, during his Team Kaua‘i COVID-19 Briefing.

“An increasing number of countries allow visitors only if they have been vaccinated or have had COVID-19,” Kawakami said.

The plan, Kawakami said, would exempt travelers from the 10-day travel quarantine without a pre-travel test.

Currently, the only way to bypass the quarantine is with a negative COVID-19 test taken 72-hours prior to arrival by a state-approved partner and uploaded onto the state’s Safe Travels app.

From the week of April 11-17, a total of 16,799 travelers came onto the island. The majority, 13,269 were visitors and 3,530 were residents. A total of 15,891 were exempt from the quarantine by taking a pre-travel negative COVID-19 test.

The state is leading these plans and more information is geared to be released later this week, a county spokesperson said.

On Monday, Gov. David Ige suggested that an interisland vaccine passport is in the works for interisland travel during an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. In interviews, Lt. Gov. Josh Green stated that an interisland passport should start in May.

Dr. Damien Kapono Chong-Hanssen Medical Director at Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i/Kaua‘i Community Health Center said the timing is in favor of an immunity passport in Hawai‘i.

“A vaccine passport is a good idea,” Chong-Hanssen said. “We have good enough scientific data at this time.”

However, one of the challenges is that there has been no established federal registry to document vaccines amongst states.

On a county level, Chong-Hanssen said those are being trained to transition to a new platform that will track and verify inoculations and dosages in the state.

“These things always take a little time to get into the rhythm,” Chong-Hanssen said.

In partnership with the Malama Pono Health Services, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i has been hosting vaccine clinics at public housing as well as performing outreach to other vulnerable populations like the houseless, homebound and Marshallese and Pacific Islander communities along with the state’s Department of Health Kaua‘i District Office.

Just last weekend, vaccine clinics were able to inoculate 54 individuals in Koloa, Hanama‘ulu and ‘Ele‘ele, focusing on public housing spaces and working with property managers.

Overall, according to the county, there have been more than 55,000 dosages of COVID-19 vaccines distributed on Kaua‘i.

Chong-Hanssen did recognize that the World Health Organization has spoken out against vaccine passports because vaccines are not as easily accessible across the globe, but remained hopeful efforts on Kaua‘i are working toward equality.

Already, on Kaua‘i, all residents 16 and older are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines at clinics throughout the county, including local pharmacies, supermarkets and clinics.

At the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall, residents age 60 and older can attend walk-in appointments Tuesday through Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. Walk-ins, at that time, are also available to those with limited English proficiency.

Fully vaccinated individuals who are later identified as close contacts of a positive case are exempt from the state’s mandatory quarantine but asked to monitor symptoms.

Kawakami, Monday, noted that in the county’s sole active case reported over the week, all close contacts were fully vaccinated and were not subject to quarantine.
Source: The Garden Island

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