Hawaii became the first state to administer coronavirus vaccines to 90% of its residents aged 12 and older Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a new milestone for the nation’s most heavily vaccinated state.
Some 1,089,984 Hawaii residents over the age of 11 — or 90% of the state’s eligible population — had taken at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot as of Friday, well above the 76.3% national rate, according to CDC figures.
Hawaii has inoculated virtually all of its seniors and 95% of people 50 to 64, whereas 76% of children 12 and older are either partially or fully vaccinated, according to data published by the state.
Seven other states have 12-and-over vaccination rates above 85%: Massachusetts (89.2%), Vermont (88.6%), Connecticut (88.4%), Rhode Island (86.9%), New Mexico (85.8%), New Jersey (85.3%) and Pennsylvania (85.3%). On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia (55.7%), Wyoming (58%) and Mississippi (59.8%) have inoculated fewer eligible residents than any other states, and Idaho has the nation’s fourth-lowest adult vaccination percentage (the state doesn’t provide vaccine data on residents ages 12 to 17).
In the Covid-19 pandemic’s early days, Hawaii imposed one of the nation’s most stringent travel policies. The state ordered everybody who entered the island chain to immediately self-quarantine for two weeks in March 2020, though officials allowed travelers with negative coronavirus tests to skip the quarantine starting last fall, and they exempted vaccinated domestic travelers in July. As a result, visits to the tourism-reliant state plummeted in 2020, causing thousands of leisure and hospitality workers to lose their jobs, but the state’s coronavirus infection rate typically stayed below the national average last year.
114.5 per 100,000 residents. That’s how many new coronavirus cases Hawaii has logged in the last week, the nation’s third-lowest infection rate, according to the CDC.
Despite Hawaii’s high vaccination rate, Covid-19 infections started spiking again in July and peaked at an all-time high in early September, before rapidly falling last month. The surge caused some hospitals to face capacity crunches and forced Gov. David Ige (D) to urge tourists and other non-essential visitors to avoid Hawaii in August: “It’s not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige told reporters. Hawaii officials blamed this trend on the coronavirus’ more infectious delta variant, which pushed up cases in all 50 states over the summer, and said the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths were among unvaccinated people. Visits to the islands increased before the Covid-19 surge, but two months ago, Ige said just 10% and 12% of new infections were tied to travel, and most were returning Hawaii residents rather than visitors.