February 23

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Vaccine Passports | Is this the beginning?

By Jeramie Eginoire

February 23, 2021


The featured photo for this post is an example of German vaccine passports. While many countries are allowing travel with proof of negative COVID-19 test results, vaccine passports are becoming more common and growing in popularity.  

Bahrain, Denmark, Iceland, Israel, and Phuket are far along in the development of of their vaccine passport programs and the European Union Commission is strongly pushing for vaccine passports to be mandatory for all EU countries.

Most signs indicate that an international standard vaccine "immunity passport" may launch soon--perhaps as early as summer 2021 for many countries. It is also assumed that the traveler must have both rounds of the vaccine (when applicable), as well as a two-week post-vaccine waiting period to allow for the development of antibodies. 

That's all fine and well for the rest of the world, but what about the U.S.?

Hawaii COVID-19 Vaccine Passports

As mentioned previously, President Biden's Executive Order called for the exploration of a national vaccine passport program. Although not a Federally-mandated program, Hawaii appears to be the first U.S. state to begin utilizing a vaccine passport program--as early as March 1 for residents and May 1 for travelers from the mainland. Other states also have the green light to launch their own passport programs if they so choose, but an eventual federal program is a likely possibility.  

Hawaii Vaccine Passports photo

Fully vaccinated essential workers appear to be first in line for the program in Hawaii. According to Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, after essential workers, the hope is for "any citizen that has been vaccinated plus two weeks to fly inter-island". Green was also the source explaining that the program may be opened to mainland travelers by May 1.  

Although Hawaii is allowing visitors with negative test results in some situations, Green cites a significant decline in visitors and its impact on the economy as an important driver in developing the vaccine passports program. 

Additionally, beginning by the end of February, airlines such as Delta Air Lines, United Airlines,  Hawaiian Airlines, and American Airlines will offer some sort of pre-flight testing program in some capacity.  

What to Expect

According to Green, fully vaccinated travelers would receive an electronic code that would allow them to travel freely throughout the state.  It can then be expected for a similar electronic number to be provided to travelers from outside of the islands. 

There does not appear to be any plans to change the ability to provide negative test results to avoid quarantine at this time. That is welcome news for those who choose not to be administered the vaccine. 

It must also be mentioned that--at least at this time--vaccine passports would not eliminate the requirement to obtain a negative test result prior to travelers arriving from outside of the U.S. There is also no obvious information regarding children at this point.  

Conclusion to Vaccine Passports | Is this the beginning?

What the future of travel will look like still remains a mystery; however, Hawaii's vaccine passports may provide a small glimpse at what's to come. Will the Federal government use Hawaii's program as a model, or will a new system be implemented? Will there be pushback from those opposed to vaccine passports? Once again, only time will tell.  In the meantime, it appears that Hawaii is attempting to bring some sort of normalcy to their tourism industry in the very immediate future.  

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