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More than 3K Molokai Residents Vaccinated

By Catherine Cluett Pactol

Molokai logged two new COVID cases last week for a total of 37 since the pandemic began, according to the Dept. of Health. Meantime, the island’s vaccination numbers are on the rise.

DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr said last Friday 3,125 Molokai residents have received their first vaccine dose, while 2,460 have gotten their second dose. That means a majority of the approximately 5,000 residents eligible by age on Molokai have been vaccinated.

Mayor Michael Victorino said last week that Molokai is close to nearing what’s considered herd immunity, which occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to COVID-19, making the virus’ spread unlikely. Lt. Gov. Josh Green has predicted the state will reach herd immunity when 70 to 85 percent of the population is vaccinated, a number he said he anticipates will happen in early July.

Janice Kalanihuia of Molokai General Hospital said the hospital has administered 2,372 vaccine doses as of last Friday, with about 140 residents scheduled for their second dose on May 7.

Molokai Community Health Center has seen “an uptick over the last two weeks” in vaccine demand, said CEO Helen Kekalia Wescoatt. Since the Health Center’s March 26 vaccination clinic, they’ve administered an additional 425 doses, of which 137 were first doses. Before the close of last Friday’s vaccine clinic, Wescoatt estimated MCHC had given about 1100 total doses to date.

The Maui County District Health Office on Molokai has administered another approximately 2,000 doses, said Baehr. The DOH reported its Molokai office had held 53 vaccination clinics across the island over the past four months, including at their office and Mitchell Pauole Center, as well as mobile clinics in Maunaloa, at various schools, Kualapu’u Market and more.

The Vaccination Travel Protocol Program begins May 11 for individuals fully vaccinated in Hawaii to travel interisland without testing or quarantine, starting the 15th day after completion of their vaccination. Vaccination remains fully voluntary, and those who choose not to participate in the program can still complete pre-travel testing and/or quarantine when traveling interisland.

“This will allow our residents to travel interisland to visit family and friends without the inconvenience of a costly preflight COVID-19 test or 10 days of quarantine,” Victorino said in his support for the program. “Vaccinated Maui County residents might want to fly to neighbor islands for staycations, to Oahu for shopping or bring home a box manapua. That’s something many of us haven’t done for a year or longer.”

Residents can begin uploading vaccination data to the Safe Travels app beginning May 7. Keiki who are 5 to 16 years old and not authorized to get vaccinations must still be tested for COVID-19 in accordance with Safe Travels rules. Children under the age of 5 do not need to test before travel provided they are traveling with a parent or guardian who has met the requirements.

“The elimination of interisland travel restrictions for full vaccinated residents will provide a great incentive for many sitting on the fence to get vaccinated to protect themselves, family, friends and co-workers,” Mayor Victorino said. “The sooner our community gets herd immunity, the sooner our lives can return to something resembling ‘normal.’ Getting a vaccine is a personal choice and immunization is not mandatory, but, for those who choose to get vaccinated, it’s appropriate for them to get an exemption from mandatory testing or quarantine requirements for travel within Hawaii.”

Victorino said the interisland travel vaccination exemption will give officials and data and logistics needed to open up the program for trans-Pacific travelers, which may happen as early as this summer, he said.

Vaccinated residents are urged to save their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, create an online account and register with the State of Hawaii Safe Travels Hawaii web program, affirm they are fully vaccinated and that the uploaded CDC Vaccination Record Card is accurate and authentic, and bring a digital image as well as the original CDC vaccination card if case you are asked to produce it.

Travelers must continue to monitor for symptoms and must follow local county regulations – including wearing a mask, physical distancing and hygiene practices.

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