WAILUKU, Hawaii (KHON2) — A booster shot is now required to be considered fully vaccinated in Maui County.
Those eligible for a booster, who are 18 and older, who want to dine indoors at a restaurant or bar, or workout at a gym will have to show proof to do so.
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Maui County is the first to implement a booster requirement in the state.
Under Mayor Michael Victorino’s latest order, fully vaccinated means getting a booster shot five months after your second Pfizer or Moderna shot, or two months after your Johnson and Johnson single shot.
Those who are not vaccinated or haven’t received their booster can show proof of a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours.
The Hawaii Restaurant Association said the latest rule is another blow to the industry.
“Kind of the sentiment is, it’s another nail in the coffin for them as small business owners and restauranteurs in Maui County,” said HRA Maui board member Tambara Garrick.
According to state health department data, 30% of Maui County residents have received a booster shot.
“Now, with the booster, businesses are still trying to pay back rent,” Garrick added. “They’re dealing with staffing issues, they’re dealing with food shortages. And so, you know, it’s a challenging time for the industry, for sure.”
“Restaurants have really been shouldering a burden, when what we’re not seeing is any sort of data or evidence that there is widespread spread of any of the variants due to dining out in a restaurant,” she continued.
Many restaurants are trying to accommodate all guests and utilize outdoor seating.
Lt. Governor Josh Green said a booster requirement could become a national standard soon.
“That’s going to be what the national folks end up recommending, and sometime late February, I believe the governor will probably make that the policy here to being up to date,” he said.
For the nearly 100,000 people in Hawaii who have recently been infected with COVID-19 this month, doctors recommend getting a booster two to four weeks after infection., but talk to your healthcare provider first.
“Studies have shown that the vaccinations provide at least two times, if not much more protection against subsequent infection,” Green said.
“Two shots is giving 57% protection against hospitalization and severe illness, and three shots is giving you 90% protection,” he continued.
Maui Health was overwhelmed last week with hospitalizations and had 39 COVID patients as of Monday morning. They said FEMA nurses have helped tremendously.
“We’re seeing that most people are being admitted, have not had the booster,” explained Maui Health CEO Mike Rembis. “So, if you have the booster, you’re either going to have modest symptoms, or you have no symptoms at all. It makes a huge, huge difference.”
With a new sub-lineage variant of omicron spreading across Europe, Green said it’s likely it will become a named variant.
“I don’t want people to worry,” Green said. “We’ll just be prepared for whatever, but we’ve accumulated a huge amount of both natural and manmade immunity between catching the virus and getting shots. So, we’re coming into a good place. I think the spring will be good for us.”