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University of Hawaii plans to mandate booster shots for students, employees

The University of Hawaii is planning to mandate booster shots for everyone on campus ― students and employees.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 12:35 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 8:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii is planning to mandate booster shots for everyone on campus ― students and employees.

UH officials say a firm timeline hasn’t been set. One scenario would involve moving forward with the booster mandate next month and then adopting it in the summer or fall.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner told the UH Board of Regents on Thursday that the university is looking to modify the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include the third dose.

“That is having two shots of Moderna or or Pfizer or one shot of the J&J vaccine and we would move to include a booster,” said Lassner.

“This is consistent with what we now hear brewing at both the state and the counties,” he added.

He also said the terminology for the mandate would likely change.

“Instead of saying ‘fully vaccinated’ we’ll to start to use the terminology “up to date with your vaccination,’” reflecting the likelihood that annual boosters may soon be needed.

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl says details still need to be worked out like updating UH’s Lumisight app, which tracks university communities vaccine and health status.

Lassner’s statements come as the state considers requiring a booster shot under the Safe Travels program. The change would mean trans-Pacific coming to Hawaii would need to show they’ve received a booster or get a negative COVID test in order to forgo the mandatory quarantine.

At the BOR meeting, Lassner said cases on campus have gone up during the Omicron surge.

But, he added, “most of the cases are not severe.”

UH has a contract with a Waikiki hotel for its students to isolate and where they get three meals per day. There’s also free testing and allowances for vaccination exemptions.

“We are providing ongoing testing not only for students who have medical or religious exemptions to vaccinations but for any student that wants it,” said UH-Manoa Provost Michael Bruno.

Currently, if someone is exposed, boosted and asymptomatic they can skip isolation.

Besides moving forward with in-person classes on Jan. 31 after a one-week delay, UH says it is planning large events for graduation.

“As of today we are planning real graduations,” Lassner said. “This would be our first real graduations since 2019.”

He added, in discussing the move to the booster mandate, “like most of the healthcare community we are looking forward to COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than pandemic.”

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