HONOLULU (KHON2) — Southwest Airlines announced on Thursday, June 10, that it is offering 50 free roundtrip tickets as part of Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccine incentive program.
The $20,000 donation prices each roundtrip ticket at $400. Tickets are valid from June 30, 2021 to June 30, 2022 — the expiration date will not be extended.
The free airline tickets are among many prizes the state is offering as part of its #HiGotVaccinated campaign that was launched last week. The state says it’s still too early to tell if there’s been a big vaccine rush since the announcement.
“Right now, 54% of our entire state is fully vaccinated, and we have 6% to go to reach that 60% threshold, which will make also a big difference for ease of travel,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
Green said certain ethnicities have been more hesitant to get vaccinated than others, and there are other barriers holding Hawaii back from reaching 70% herd immunity.
On Thursday, Queen’s partnered with St. Elizabeth’s Church in Kalihi with We are Oceania to help educate and reach the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations.
“We decided we be role models, so when they ask us, we tell them from our experience, and that’s really powerful,” said We Are Oceania CEO Josie Howard.
Queen’s Health Systems said accessibility is an issue too, but working with trusted community partners help.
“Any amount whether it’s 10 or 500 is still a success to us because the importance is every individual that gets vaccinated is eliminating the risk of another cluster and keeping our community safe,” said Kaui Nilani-Nishizaki, Queen’s health Systems Director of Media Client Health.
The state health department said graduation parties are the cause of recent clusters statewide resulting in over 60 cases. None were vaccinated, three were hospitalized, and one more required intensive care.
Some wonder how achievable 70% is when there are 200,000 plus residents who aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.
“If we’re going to have a sense of how safe and how protected our whole community is, we have to include in that everyone who’s part of our community, everyone with whom we interact and mix,” said Kauai Health District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman.
Green expects approval to come this summer for kids 11 and under to get vaccinated, which could give Hawaii a small boost, but it will take time to get 300,000 more doses in arms.
“I will make a case to the governor to ease any restrictions if we’re just short of the 70%. The reason for that is over 3% of our people actually have natural immunity from having had COVID, it could make all the difference since you’re including kids in that, you know, in the denominator,” said Green.
Dr. Berreman said vaccinated people should be ambassadors for others to get vaccinated.
“If each of us convinced one other unvaccinated person to be vaccinated, we would get to 70% really quickly,” she added.
There is still time to get vaccinated and sign up to win a prize. All residents who are 18 years and older and have received at least one shot of the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible to enter. All entries must be received by 11:59 pm on June 30, but a winner will be announced each week starting with the first drawing, which is set to take place on Friday, June 11.
Prizes include a free trip to Las Vegas, 100,000 Hawaiian Miles, free Zippy’s for a year and more.
Click here to see the full list of prizes.