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Booster shot not being required

Governor Ige recently announced that a COVID-19 booster shot will not be required to be considered fully vaccinated. This regards his statement from January 24th in which Ige said a booster shot would have been required to be fully vaccinated. This would have added onto the already-required COVID vaccines, in which you receive either two shots of Pfizer or Moderna; or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The mandate would have applied only to the Hawaii Safe Travels program, which restricts those who either aren’t fully vaccinated or haven’t tested negative for COVID within the last 72 hour from boarding a flight. Prior to Ige’s cancellation of the mandate, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi claimed the target date for the mandate’s implementation was February 18th. 

Ige had earlier claimed that booster mandates across the islands would be decided by the mayors of each county, respectively. Blangiardi spoke out recently, stating that he is not considering a booster mandate for the county of Oahu. “I believe in my heart our local residents, they know what to do and they’re doing it,” he told Hawaii News Now. “We asked a few weeks ago about personal responsibility and now we’re seeing it manifest itself so I think at this point in time we’re not entertaining any mandates.” Currently, Oahu runs the Safe Access Oahu program, which resembles the Safe Travels program, but applies to on-island recreational activities and dining instead of flights. The negative result timer is also different, being 72 hours for Safe Travels and 48 hours for Safe Access Oahu.

On the contrary to Blangiardi’s decision, Maui county just recently went through with their implementation of a booster mandate. However, they just removed this requirement from their rules. This mandate reflected that of the proposed Safe Travels one, being that a booster shot was required to be considered fully vaccinated. This meant that those who wish to dine or participate in any indoor recreational activity in Maui county must show proof of both their COVID vaccination and the booster shot on top of that, or a negative COVID test from the last 48 hours. Maui county’s mayor Mike Victorino claimed the drop in COVID-19 cases is the cause of removing the imposed mandate, but being fully vaccinated (two shots Pfizer/Moderna or one shot Johnson & Johnson) is still required to dine in or partake in indoor recreational activities.

While most of the other counties are still in the process of deciding whether or not a booster mandate will be implemented, the University of Hawaii has already taken action. UH president David Lassner announced that a booster shot will soon be required to attend in-person classes. While no timeframe has been provided, UH is already requiring students who come to class on campus to be fully vaccinated. In-person classes just started back up on January 31st, but some teachers are keeping class strictly to online learning.

The spike in cases due to the omicron variant caused a lot of panic in the islands, which was reflected in the number of different mandates that were later removed. Ige claimed the Safe Travels program would have a booster requirement, and then took it away two weeks later. Victorino went through with his mandate, just to take it down a week later due to the sharp fall in cases. Lassner never followed up on his comment about UH requiring a booster shot, but still imposed a vaccine mandate on campus. Blangiardi was the only one to come out and say he doesn’t intend to apply a booster mandate on Oahu, and from the looks of it, that just might be the case.

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