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Group of Maui parents rallies against COVID vaccine mandate for student-athletes

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 7:50 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 6, 2021 at 12:44 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group of Maui parents and others rallied Thursday against the state’s mandatory vaccine program for student-athletes.

“If you want to play sports in high school, you need to get vaccinated, and that just blows my mind how the DOE is allowing that. How our government is allowing that,” said Kendall Grove, father of six.

Other vaccines are already mandatory for school attendance.

The DOE hasn’t gone that far yet when it comes to the COVID vaccine.

Instead, officials announced on Wednesday that all Hawaii public high school student-athletes are required to get a COVID vaccine in order to play fall sports.

Health officials stress the vaccine is safe and the strongest protection against severe symptoms from the virus, especially amid an ongoing surge of the delta variant.

Several parents who rallied at the Department of Education’s Maui district office in Wailuku on Thursday morning said the mandate takes away their right to make decision about their children’s health. The DOE, meanwhile, said the mandate was about ensuring everyone’s safety.

Kendall and Anna Grove’s eldest son plays football for Baldwin High School. Anna Grove said they decided to send him to live with family on the mainland so he can play football unvaccinated.

“There are a lot of parents that are having to make this decision. I’m not the only one,” Grove said.

Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz met with those holding signs because the mayor is traveling on the mainland.

“I went down, listened to their concerns and I will express their concerns to the governor,” Baz said.

Baz said the governor has the final decision.

Uilani Tevaga, a mother of five, asked Baz to be a voice for them.

“I don’t want to see another kanaka leave the island for better opportunity because of a shot. I don’t understand that. We just really pleading with you as our leaders, as kanaka of this island, to communicate that to the powers that be,” Tevaga said.

Baz says Victorino believes the vaccine is completely safe and the choice not to get it has consequences.

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