Fully vaccinated inter-island travelers in Hawaii will no longer need to get tested or quarantine before hopping from one island to the next, according to the state's governor.
The inter-island vaccine passport, which has been in the works for weeks and launched Tuesday, will eventually be expanded to include visitors from outside Hawaii. Currently, the program is only available to people who were vaccinated in Hawaii, according to the state's Safe Travels Hawai'i program.
Those who participate will have to upload their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to the program's digital platform.
In Hawaii, 51% of people have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 40% are considered fully vaccinated, according to the state's Department of Health. That's higher than the United States overall, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 35.4% of all residents have been fully vaccinated.
The concept is in line with the CDC's recommendation that fully vaccinated Americans can travel domestically without the need to get tested or quarantine.
"It's really helpful and I think it will help the islands to stay down where we should be … we finally can travel and see family. It's big," one traveler who was headed from Oahu to Maui told Hawaii News Now.
While the program will eventually be expanded to travelers from outside Hawaii, it must wait until the state can "verify vaccine information and can provide the same assurance of integrity on a nationwide level," according to the guidance.
"We don't have a firm timeline on trans-Pacific. The challenge is about verification — about vaccination done in other states," Gov. David Ige told Hawaii News Now. "We've been working with a couple of other private sector partners about working to get access to the state vaccination records, and we believe that that would help them to get vaccination records in other states as well."
Currently, travelers heading to Hawaii can skip quarantine if they get tested before traveling at a "trusted partner" site.
While some states like Hawaii and New York have embraced the idea of vaccine passports, the concept has become a flashpoint, and other states — like Texas, Florida, and Arizona — have banned them.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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