Hawaii Safe Travels getting help from company that developed New York’s COVID-19 ‘vaccine passport’

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state says it’s working with more partners to help travelers get vaccination exceptions.

Among them is a company that’s already developed New York’s vaccine passport.

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Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the state is on schedule to be able to screen residents who are fully vaccinated to travel inter-island when the exception starts on May 11. Travelers should be able to upload their vaccination card to the Safe Travels portal by May 7.

“We’d like people to carry their card with them, their vaccine card, but you’ll be able to upload a picture of your card into the Safe Travels system, and that will be excellent,” said Green.

The state has already been working with the companies Clear and Common Pass to validate COVID-19 test results from travelers and is looking to do the same with vaccine exceptions. Green says another company helping out is Excelsior, developed by IBM. It’s the first vaccine passport in the country now being used in New York. Green adds that these companies will be more critical when the vaccine passport is allowed for mainland visitors.

“The process is basically that they can do some verification in the background, especially because our systems are very seamless here in Hawaii between the VAMS system, Hawaii Pacific Health, Kaiser, Queen’s, and the health centers,” he said.

Green says the state is also on track to allow vaccinated mainland visitors to come to Hawaii in July, and international travelers by the end of the year. But a lot will depend on how the state handles the increase in inter-island.

“Fortunately the vaccines are the same from the mainland and internationally, so it’s not a problem in that sense. But we’ll have some verification challenges away from the boundaries of our state,” said Green.

He adds that we could then see tourism go back up to pre-pandemic numbers, so he’s urging more residents to get vaccinated so we can reach herd immunity.

“We’re in a good spot,” said Green. “The bigger question is, will we be ready for mainland and international travel at some point? And we’re gonna be a little more careful with that because of variants and we want our own immunity to be solid.”

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