The state’s push to get more of Hawaii’s residents vaccinated for COVID-19 is on this month, and everything is on the table — from a further easing of travel restrictions to an incentive campaign offering a bonanza of prizes.
Gov. David Ige announced Friday that starting June 15, Hawaii will end all restrictions on intercounty travel between the Hawaiian Islands as the state approaches the 55% vaccination rate.
Also, starting June 15, returning Hawaii travelers who have been vaccinated in the state can bypass the mandatory 10-day quarantine without a pre-travel test.
When 60% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, Ige said, all travelers from the mainland, Alaska and U.S. territories can also skip the testing and quarantine requirement with proof of vaccination through the state’s Safe Travels program.
When Hawaii reaches the goal of 70% vaccinated statewide, essentially all travel and public health restrictions will be lifted, including indoor mask requirements, Ige said, and there will no longer be a need for the Safe Travels program.
“The easing of travel restrictions is a direct result of our robust vaccination rate, and a community that sacrificed and did what it had to do over the past year and a half to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Ige. “We need to push hard now so we can get to the point where Safe Travels is no longer needed to keep the people of Hawaii safe.”
As of Friday, 52% of Hawaii’s population had been fully vaccinated, according to the state Department of Health, and 59% had initiated vaccinations.
A total of 1,553,304 doses had been administered in the state, up 6,550 from Thursday.
“The positive effect of vaccination is clear,” said DOH Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “We’ve seen a decrease in cases.”
Hawaii’s average daily new cases have dropped to 52, said Char, reflecting the vaccines’ positive effect.
“But we’re not done yet,” she said. “We need to continue this progress. That’s why the Department of Health is focusing our efforts to excite and engage those who are not yet vaccinated.”
In addition to offering more vaccination information and accessibility, the state this month is launching the #HIGotVaccinated incentives campaign, with a variety of prizes and discounts in partnership with health care providers and Hawaii businesses.
Among the prizes are 1 million HawaiianMiles from Hawaiian Airlines, distributed as 10 prizes of 100,000 each, along with a trip to Las Vegas for two from Vacations Hawaii, and Zippy’s meals for a year in the form of a $6,000 gift card.
Restaurants are also participating. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is offering $1,000 in catering. Merriman’s is offering dinner for six at any of its four locations.
Hawaii residents ages 18 and up who have already been vaccinated, as well as those who get vaccinated this month with at least one dose of Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, are eligible to enter at higotvaccinated.com. Entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. June 30.
Within minutes of the campaign announcement Friday afternoon, the website crashed, but it was up and running again within an hour, with more than 1,000 registered. By 5:15 p.m. Friday more than 16,000 had signed up.
Separately, a number of deals and discounts will also be available this month for those who show their vaccination cards.
The Health Department will also offer more outreach, more vaccination sites and more public service announcements.
This month more than 300 sites offering COVID-19 vaccines will be available across the state, Char said — from malls to farmers markets to churches.
There will also be a rollout of new PSAs featuring a Q&A with local physicians, the University of Hawaii’s men’s volleyball community and stories from COVID-19 survivors.
The department will also continue to partner with Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and Filipino community groups to encourage vaccinations, as well as translate educational materials into nearly 20 languages.
The vaccination rate will be based on Hawaii’s state population of about 1.4 million, Char said, even though children under 12 are not currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
The state will also use the Health Department’s statistics rather than those from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which sometimes range higher. But the state’s vaccination data will include federal data, she said, including numbers pulled from the military and Veterans Affairs.
Vaccines will be available this month at more locations than ever. Visit Hawaii COVID19.com/vaccine.