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Hospital to Hold Vaccine Clinic; Vaccine Passport Proposed

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Molokai logged no new COVID-19 cases last week but spikes on Maui, including a large cluster associated with church services at King’s Cathedral in Kahului, continues to raise concerns among officials. Meanwhile, Molokai General Hospital will be holding a vaccine clinic this week, while county officials consider a “vaccine passport” program for travel.

Molokai General Hospital will be holding a walk-in vaccine clinic on Friday, April 9 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic is open to all Molokai residents aged 18 and older. Proof of residency as well as ID and insurance cards are required. The hospital says more vaccination events will be upcoming, to be announced on the hospital’s Facebook page and at molokaigeneralhospital.org.

While previously, the Dept. of Health directed vaccination distribution on the state level, DOH is now asking its District Health Officers on neighbor islands to expand vaccine eligibility as
needed to ensure all available vaccination slots are filled, the Dept. announced last week.

A DOH release acknowledged that “every island has its own unique characteristics including population, population density, healthcare resources and enthusiasm for the COVID-19 vaccine. With more vaccine coming into Hawaii last week than any previous week, DOH wants to give the neighbor islands more say in how they administer vaccinations.”

Both Molokai Community Health Center, and now Molokai General Hospital, have expanded offering COVID-19 vaccines to all residents, despite much of the rest of the state remaining in Phase 1c, which focuses on inoculating those over the age of 60.

DOH Director Dr. Libby Char said the combined vaccination allocation for Hawaii last week topped 120,000 doses and with the goal of getting those shots into arms as quickly as possible, she “believes the neighbor islands are situated to get that done.”

With vaccination rates on the rise in the state, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said Maui County has requested to be a part of a vaccine passport pilot program that officials believe could strike a balance between safety and ease of travel. The program would begin April 15 for interisland travel and later expand to trans-Pacific travel for those coming into the state. The proposal is awaiting the approval of Gov. David Ige; Lt. Gov. Josh Green has already stated his support for the program.

A verified COVID-19 vaccination card would exempt travelers from the current pre-travel testing and quarantine restrictions. Details on the rollout are still being discussed, including how verification would take place. Those who choose not to get vaccinated could still travel with a negative test or quarantine.

“We would like to see anyone that’s fully vaccinated and has had at least two weeks of incubation since the last vaccination to be able to come in and not have to take a test and go about their business,” Victorino said during a county news conference last week. “This would be for residents and visitors alike who are fully vaccinated.”

Meanwhile on Maui, COVID-19 cases continue to rise. More than 50 COVID cases are now associated with King’s Cathedral, after a cluster was identified there on March 7. DOH met with church representatives at that time to recommend virtual services and other containment measures. However, further transmission was detected related to ongoing in-person services, a youth conference and other gatherings, according to the DOH. The cluster has doubled in the last two weeks, now totalling more than 50 COVID-19 cases, and has been called an “imminent health threat” by the Dept. of Health.

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