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Kokua Line: With the rise of variants among unvaccinated people, will Hawaii institute vaccine mandates?

Question: With the rise of variants among unvaccinated people, will Hawaii institute vaccine mandates?

Answer: Gov. David Ige is reluctant to mandate COVID-19 vaccination while the vaccines are under Emergency Use Authorization, and hopes that federal health authorities will soon approve one or more of the vaccines for regular use, he told the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii show Monday.

“I know that Pfizer, for example, has completed the application for regular use. We, as governors, are certainly encouraging (federal health authorities) to evaluate that and get it to regular use as soon as possible,” he said, indicating that could clear the way to mandate vaccination among high-risk populations, such as state prison guards and inmates.

Outbreaks such as have occurred at state prisons because inmates, guards or both chose not to get vaccinated do “create challenges for us,” Ige said. “We are looking at those kinds of situations and weighing the liability that the state would face against requiring vaccinations for employees and then what would be required to require vacci­nations for those incarcerated in the jail and prison situations. We continue to evaluate that. We haven’t decided that we’re going to mandate it at this point in time, but we continue to look at it as we see the case counts.”

Q: How can I find out whether we’ll get the Child Tax Credit direct payment? My family has not received it, and we should be eligible.

A: The first advance payment isn’t due for direct deposit until Thursday, according to the IRS, so you haven’t missed anything yet. You can check whether you are enrolled on the IRS website, www.irs.gov. Once there, search for the “Child Tax Credit Update Portal.”

Q: My son, his wife and their children are coming home to visit us. The two adults are vaccinated but the kids are under 12. Will they be covered by their parents’ vaccine exceptions? They are coming in August, and I doubt we’ll be to 70% by then.

A: As your question indicates, at this point children under 12 are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccination; such authorization is not expected until sometime this fall. Also, Gov. David Ige has said that Hawaii’s Safe Travels program will persist until 70% of Hawaii’s total population is vaccinated against the disease. Hawaii’s vaccination rate stood at 58.6% Monday; it is not expected to reach 70% until September at the earliest. Safe Travels requires passengers arriving in Hawaii to quarantine for 10 days unless they are fully vaccinated; present a current, negative COVID-19 test before boarding the plane; or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days.

Now, to answer your questions: No, the parents’ vaccine exceptions won’t cover children age 5 and older. Children in that age range can obtain an acceptable, negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of boarding the flight to Hawaii to avoid quarantine for 10 days. A list of accepted test providers can be found at hawaiicovid19.com/travel­-partners.

The accompanying parents’ vaccine exceptions would cover kids younger than 5, according to the state of Hawaii’s COVID-19 portal.

Children younger than 12 who were vaccinated as part of a clinical trial are not eligible for the vaccine exception, according to the portal, which states that trial vaccination cards will not be accepted.

Auwe

I am being terrorized by a tenant! He is refusing to move out even though I am selling the house, which I have to do because he hasn’t paid rent for months and I need the rent to pay the mortgage! With consistent unemployment benefits plus other aid (stimulus, SNAP, food bank, etc.), he should be paying his rent without excuses. He’s taken so many freebies this whole time while I am going broke! He just doesn’t want to work, and that’s the sad fact about some people. — Fed-up landlord

(Hawaii’s eviction moratorium, which is scheduled to expire next month, prevents a landlord from evicting a tenant for nonpayment of rent.)


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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