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Vaccinated travelers could be exempt from quarantine, testing by spring

Updated: Jan. 18, 2021 at 5:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lt. Gov. Josh Green said travelers who get vaccinated for COVID-19 will likely be exempted from quarantine and testing requirements as early as this spring.

“I’ve reached out to the governor with a policy decision that we accept people who are fully vaccinated as an exemption to the Safe Travels program,” said Green.

“This is a massive game changing level of security if we get this done.”

About 11 million people on the mainland, or about 3% of the U.S. population, have already been vaccinated and the Biden administration wants to vaccinate 100 million people in its first 100 days.

As the number of vaccinated people grows so does the hope that they might include thousands who expect to travel to Hawaii ― without quarantines or pre-travel tests.

Green said the hold-up right now is the completion of a CDC study on whether people who are vaccinated could still spread the disease.

“Here’s the concern that you can be fully vaccinated but they want to make sure there’s not extra infection or COVID 19 in people’s upper airways, and nose and throat,” said Green.

Experts believe that’s a low risk.

“As far as we know there isn’t a carrier state in this, in the life cycle of this virus,” said University of Hawaii epidemiologist Dr. DeWolfe Miller.

“You either recover from them and become immune or get the vaccine and become immune.”

Mass vaccinations here could also boost inter-island travel by Hawaii residents, the experts said.

“That will be so good for us to travel again ― both in between the islands and to have people visit us in a safe way,” Miller said.

One plan Miller and other doctors are proposing is to vaccinate the entire population on Neighbor islands such as Lanai and Molokai.

“They would be the first place in the country to have herd immunity and the irony of having Molokai vaccinated first ... having had the history it’s had, I would just think it’s fabulous,” he said.

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