Herd immunity in Hawaii a possibility this summer: university report

(FILE) A cultural dance troupe rehearsing at Kapiʻolani Regional Park in Waikiki with Diamond Head in the background. (Photo by Alfred Acenas, EBC Hawaii-Pacific Bureau, Eagle News Service)


By Alfred Acenas
EBC Hawaii-Pacific Bureau

HONOLULU (Eagle News) – The Aloha State has a chance to attain herd immunity from COVID-19 by the beginning of July 2021, assuming that the most recent seven-day average of vaccine doses administered remains unchanged.

This is according to a new report from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

Experts predicted that taming COVID-19 will require between 70% and 85% of the population getting vaccinated. UHERO researchers used a target percentage of 75% of the state’s population with either a 2-shot or 1-shot vaccine.

As of April 15, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that about 380,000 out of approximately 1.42 million residents have been fully vaccinated, while about 161,000 are awaiting their second shot. The number of vaccines administered rose to an average of about 13,800 per day in early April.

Assuming that the state remains consistent, it is possible that 75% of the state’s population will be vaccinated by the first week of July.

UHERO has also been closely monitoring the willingness of the unvaccinated population to get the vaccine. The most recent survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 11% of the adult population in Hawaii stated they “probably” or “definitely” will not get a vaccine.

At the same time, the share of the population who said they are unlikely to get vaccinated has been dropping, and is significantly lower than the rest of the U.S.

In addition, economic activity in the state has been trending upward since fall 2020. According to the UHERO Economic Pulse, about 60% of economic losses from the beginning of the pandemic have been recovered so far. However, changes in economic activity are associated with fluctuations in COVID-19 prevalence. A recent jump in cases suggests that the recovery momentum could stall.

“Attaining widespread vaccination is an important step toward solidifying our nascent recovery and preventing economic backsliding,” UHERO said. “Herd immunity will not immediately return us to the pre-pandemic state of affairs, but the sooner we can get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, the more certain will be economic growth prospects.”

Since March 2020, Hawaii has seen 31,490 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The death toll from the virus statewide stands at 474.

(Eagle News Service)