Going to Hawaii? Get a booster or go to quarantine

(AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

We’ve known this was coming for some time now, but even I didn’t expect it to take off this quickly. The definition of “fully vaccinated” is already changing, though not at the federal level (yet). We first reported on this back at the beginning of December, when I raised all sorts of questions about how these shifting definitions could directly impact people’s rights and their immunity passport status. At the end of the year, the CDC agreed (without changing any policies at the time) that you couldn’t really be “fully vaccinated” without a booster. But now Hawaii is diving fully into the pool and will be changing its travel policies. The good news is that they will wait two weeks to implement the policy. The bad news is that if you’re not at the point where your doctor recommends you get a booster yet, you’ll be spending five days in Quarantine in the Aloha state if you go there or face legal repercussions. (ABC News)

Hawaii will require visitors to the state to have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster if they want to skip quarantine.

Currently, under the rules of the state’s “Safe Travels” program, travelers who don’t want to quarantine for five days must either be fully vaccinated — meaning two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — or have a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel

However, the program is changing the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include booster shots, Gov. David Ige announced at a news conference last week.

So starting in two weeks, if you want to fly to Hawaii, you’ll need to produce proof not only of initial vaccination but also proof of a booster. Otherwise, the first five days of your “vacation” (or business trip or whatever) will be spent locked down in a hotel taking regular COVID tests. If that’s the way that a state that relies so heavily on tourism wants to play this, I guess that’s their call.

But as we discussed when this first came up, they have a lot of questions to answer. Thus far, the guidance simply says that if you don’t have the booster, you have to go into quarantine. But what if you were one of the people who waited a long time before getting vaccinated because you were collecting information? In the state where I live the government was still offering cash incentives to go get vaccinated as recently as October and November. Some people received their initial vaccinations as recently as two months ago, if not later.

When my wife and I went to inquire with our doctor about boosters, we were told that it was inadvisable to get them sooner than six months after the initial injections. That was also the guidance offered by the CDC, at least as one point. (I’m not even bothering to check when that was while writing this because they change their guidance more often than most people change socks.) What about the people who were vaccinated initially in the last few months? Will they be sent to quarantine even though they are “fully vaccinated” under the CDC’s own guidelines?

How about the children who weren’t even eligible for the vaccine until recently? Families with younger children planning a winter vacation won’t qualify if their kids aren’t even supposed to think about getting a booster yet. The list goes on.

Yet again, it’s not hard to imagine the potential negative consequences of these rash, poorly considered mandates. Will people who are not advised to get a booster this soon (or have one given to their children) consider doing it just so their Hawaiin vacation isn’t ruined by being locked down for a week, even though they’ve “done the right thing” and gotten vaccinated? No testing has been done on the effects of getting too many of these shots too quickly to my knowledge. Will Hawaii drive some of these folks to play Russian roulette with their health just to avoid a quarantine?

The stupidity of all of these mandates continues to expand like a… pandemic. Some day we’re going to reach the point where a sane, unbiased group will compile all of the data and figure out just how much we got wrong in the response to this virus. Part of me hopes I’m not around to read it because I’m fairly sure my head would explode.