Hawaii faces ‘uphill battle’ to achieve herd immunity from coronavirus


HONOLULU(KHON2) — Hawaii is inching closer to herd immunity every day, but convincing residents who have not already made an effort to get vaccinated is going to be an uphill battle, according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

Officials are not exactly sure how long it will take.

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70% is the magic number that will truly reopen Hawaii and allow residents to travel unrestricted, ditch face masks and get back to life as it was pre-COVID.

How hard can it be? More than 52% are already fully vaccinated.

According to Green, Hawaii will get there eventually, but it will not be easy.

“Well, 60% will be quite easy, we’re almost there. 70% will be a challenge,” Green said. “And it will take a good effort this June and part of July probably, to get there.”

He said he can not be sure when Hawaii will reach herd immunity.

Hawaii’s current population is over 1.4 million and every person counts, even kids who can not get the shot.

“There are 216,000 individuals ages zero to 11 in our state. The governor has decided to count them because immunity is immunity,” Green explained. “That means that we have to get there with just 1.2 million people that are eligible for the vaccine.”

According to the Department of Health, 741,051 Hawaii residents have been fully vaccinated as of Friday, June 4. Green said Hawaii needs more than 980,000 to hit the mark.

That means at least 240,000 more people need to get the shot.

Just like every person counts, Department of Health director Dr. Libby Char said every dose given to a Hawaii resident counts too.

“That includes our jurisdictional doses that are administered. Plus the doses that were administered through the federal programs, through the federal pharmacy programs, through some of our federal partners like the DOD and the VA,” Char explained.

Even Hawaii residents vaccinated outside the state can be counted, according to the Green, but they need to contact the DOH to verify their information.

Green has this message for anyone still on the fence or afraid to get vaccinated cause they think it is unsafe:

“I would not let my 14-year-old daughter get vaccinated if I didn’t think it was safe,” Green said. “Everyone knows that is the one person that I would never let any harm come to. So people should get vaccinated, they should. They should turn away from the conspiracy theories and realize that we’re all in this together.”

Fully vaccinated Hawaii residents can log on to higotvaccinated.com and register for discounts at local businesses and a chance to win some very cool prizes. The campaign launched on June 4. As of Friday afternoon, the DOH said more than 65,700 people had already registered.

Prizes range from round-trip tickets to Las Vegas and Alaska to free Zippy’s for a year. The ongoing deals and discounts include free merchandise and discounts at a number of local businesses including Watanabe Floral, Ruby Tuesday’s, Il Gelato, HoloHolo Grill and many more.

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