comscore Kokua Line: Vaccinated passengers not exempt from Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Vaccinated passengers not exempt from Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program

Question: I’m a health care worker who has received the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. I have my completed COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Does that exempt me from any of the travel requirements, both interisland and domestically?

Answer: No. “At this time, proof of vaccination is not a recognized exemption to the Hawaii travel quarantine. The state continues to evaluate the latest science and will inform travelers of any new exemptions as those decisions are made. Travelers may go to hawaiicovid19.com/travel for updated information and news about travel quarantine exemptions,” Janice Okubo, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said in an email Wednesday.

As more and more people are vaccinated in Hawaii and elsewhere, this is becoming a common question to Kokua Line, with many readers urging Hawaii to swiftly incorporate an exemption for fully vaccinated passengers.

However, public health officials don’t yet know whether someone can spread COVID-19 even after they have been fully vaccinated, NPR explained in a story published Tuesday (808ne.ws/nprsty).

To be clear, the story said there’s no risk of acquiring the virus from the vaccine itself, but there is a small chance that a vaccinated person could be mildly infected by someone else and not show any symptoms. Researchers are studying the risk of transmission in that scenario. “The data to answer the question of whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus are just now being collected,” it said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that people should continue to wear face masks and practice social distancing even after being vaccinated, at least for now. By that logic, it would seem premature to lift a pre-travel testing requirement for people who have been vaccinated, although the CDC does not address exactly that question in its FAQs at cdc.gov (click on the box titled “COVID-19 Vaccines”).

Here is the CDC’s response to another common question:

Q: Do I still need to wear a mask and avoid close contact outside of my bubble if I have received the full vaccine (two doses)?

A: “Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others. Together, COVID-19 vaccination and following CDC’s recommendations for how to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from getting and spreading COVID-19. Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before deciding to change recommendations on steps everyone should take to slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.”

A reminder for travelers: Hawaii requires arriving passengers to quarantine for 10 days unless they arrive with an acceptable, negative COVID-19 test result from an approved “Trusted Testing and Travel Partner.” See the list of partners at hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/. It includes providers in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the continental United States, Canada and Japan.

Auwe

Auwe to whoever viciously and shamelessly chopped the jade tree plants to the roots on Pensacola Street. It was done in the dead of the night on Jan. 7. … I will pray for you. — L.A.


Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email kokualine@staradvertiser.com.


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