Public workers scramble to meet vaccine mandate deadline, others get extension

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The vaccine mandate for state and county workers officially took effect on Monday, Aug. 16. Some had the deadline extended. For others, it was a scramble to get the process done.

Public school teachers were notified Friday afternoon that they can upload their proof of vaccination to a link on the Department of Education website. Teacher Dale Olive says he made several attempts to connect to the site.

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“I went through this for about 45 minutes out of frustration, he said. “I could not get anywhere, nothing.”

He says it shouldn’t be hard for someone who’s trying to do the right thing, and adds that the state seems unprepared to roll out the mandate.

“I’m a teacher. I want to comply with the rules,” said Olive. “But you kind of put me against the wall on this. I’m not really happy with the way the whole thing was rolled out.”

DOE says there were no reports of any widespread issues, and anyone with problems connecting can contact the DOE Help Desk.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi extended the deadline for county workers to Aug. 23. During that time workers are hoping to get more answers on how the process will work. Honolulu has the strictest mandate. Those who do not get a religious or medical exemption have to get vaccinated. But it’s still not clear how those exemptions are determined.

“I have no clue how that’s gonna work,” said Bobby Lee, president of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association. “I would think, to some degree, there’s some obligation on the employer to validate those two options. I really don’t know how they’re gonna do it.”

Those who get the exemption will have to get tested once a week and will get two hours paid time off to get it done. The mayor’s spokesman says the city will use rapid antigen tests, which are less accurate. There will be city designated sites for employees to take their test.

UH also extended the deadline an extra week. Faculty members will have to upload their vaccination proof by Aug. 23 to the UH app or get tested weekly.

“In order to make it easier for both employees and for the students, they’re looking to have testing sites on campus,” said Christian Fern, executive director of the UH Professional Assembly.

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Fern says there are no exemptions but that will change next semester.

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