HONOLULU (KHON2) — Medical experts say a COVID-19 booster shot will likely be required to be considered fully vaccinated. That could lead to more changes in the months ahead.
With the Omicron variant spiking the number of daily COVID cases, medical experts say getting two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of Johnson and Johnson is not enough to be considered fully vaccinated.
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“The numbers are pretty scary out there,” said Dr. Axel Lehrer, associate professor at John A. Burns School of Medicine. “So I think the most important thing is for everyone to be fully vaccinated, and fully vaccinated by today’s definition means that you need a booster.”
Maui County has already made the changes to only consider fully vaccinated as those who have received their boosters and be allowed at restaurants and bars. Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the CDC will likely make changes in policy by February. But he doesn’t believe in requiring public workers to get boosted to keep their jobs. He says Safe Travels should require passengers to be boosted or tested to avoid quarantine.
“So boosted or tested,” said Green. “It’s simpler and easier to express to travelers, which I think is important because the program is sometimes quite complicated. I’d like to see that as part of our promotional materials starting in February.”
Safe Travels Hawaii says it is waiting for CDC to provide guidance before making any changes. Other changes are already in place, including now issuing a green QR code for travelers who show proof of vaccination or negative test result.
“The green QR code indicates to the screener that this person has met all the requirements, just go ahead and finish the screening and let them be on their way,” said Sheri Kajiwara, Safe Travels Hawaii Administrator.
She says it’s gonna help with the backlog that’s been happening when travelers arrive. That’s because many airlines have not been able to pre-screen passengers before departure.
“Because of the COVID outbreak they are short staffed,” said Kajiwara. “They don’t have pilots. They don’t have flight attendants. They don’t have gate checkers.”
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Hawaiian Airlines says it’s still pre-screening passengers but there are times when crews have to stop to ensure the flight leaves on time.