Have you gotten a COVID-19 vaccine already? Great! However, if you plan on visiting the islands, you should know that Hawaii still requires a pre-travel test for vaccinated travelers. And there are good, scientific reasons for this requirement. Oh, and the City reverses course on the new Hanauma Bay rules.
Vaccines began making their way in the arms of Americans back in December. Things have been slow going so far, but the vaccination efforts do bring hope for a return to some semblance of normal at some point. But, just because you got a vaccine doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. As a result, vaccinated visitors to Hawaii must still obtain a pre-travel COVID test.
Many Questions Remain
So, while we know that the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are about 95% effective at protecting against a COVID-19 infection, there’s still a lot we don’t know. In fact, according to the CDC, we don’t know the nuances of how the vaccines work outside of clinical trials. One of the biggest outstanding questions is if a fully vaccinated person does contract COVID-19, even an asymptomatic case, can that person still spread the virus? What’s more, a 95% effective rate means the vaccine isn’t full-proof. Plus, vaccines are, in general, more effective when large percentages of a population are vaccinated – we’re not there yet.
As a result, the CDC recommends that those who got the vaccine continue to wear masks, practice higher levels of personal hygiene, and avoid gathering. For these reasons, the Hawaii Department of Health continues to require pre-travel tests for anyone coming to Hawaii – at least for now. When the CDC updates its guidance, though, then the Hawaii DOH will review its Safe Travels program too.
City Reverses Course on Hanauma Bay Rules
Recently, the City & County of Honolulu issued a new rule barring walk-up visitors at Hanauma Bay. The reason for this was safety concerns regarding visitors queueing along the highway and lack of social distancing in the queues. However, officials are now walking-back the new rule. The reason for this reversal is the unexpected success of their new ticketing system, which vastly reduced crowding. Hopefully, though, they’ll continue to move forward with an online solution.
Hawaii Requires Pre-Travel Test for Vaccinated Travelers, Final Thoughts
I know some people will grumble about obtaining a test after getting the vaccine. But, despite the incredible progress we’ve made in the past year, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this virus. So, it’s best to take a more conservative approach to things like pre-travel testing, masking requirements, etc. Plus, we know that even pre-travel testing isn’t full-proof – far from. That’s why EVERYONE needs to continue to take all precautions necessary to prevent the further spread of the virus.