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Coronavirus live news: WHO to ship Chinese vaccines despite concerns, US Covid hospitalisations hit eight-month high | World news

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Hawaii was once seen as a beacon of safety during the pandemic because of stringent travel and quarantine restrictions and overall vaccine acceptance that made it one of the most inoculated states in the US.

But the highly contagious delta variant exploited weaknesses as residents let down their guard and attended family gatherings after months of restrictions and vaccine hesitancy lingered in some Hawaiian communities, AP reports.

Now, the governor is urging tourists to stay away and residents to limit travel, and leaders are re-imposing caps on sizes of social gatherings.

“Not only was I afraid of the needles and just putting it off, putting it off, but I didn’t have enough information about the vaccine and that distrust was just very real,” said Perreira-Keawekane.

She now plans to get vaccinated. Still, she doesn’t consider herself pro-vaccine, or anti-vaccine.

“Having to choose one or the other is the root of trauma for native people,” she said. “You can shout data at the top of your lungs, but if it has nothing to do with people we know, it’s not real.”

Overall, 62.1% of Hawaii is fully vaccinated. But Hawaiians have among the lowest rates; estimates show it’s at about 40%.

Native Hawaiians make up about 21% of the state’s population, and from the start of the pandemic until July 10, 2021, they accounted for 21% of cases as well. But from July 11, 2021, to Aug. 16, 2021, that figured increased to 28%, according to state data.

Honolulu Emergency Services Department Director Jim Ireland said that on a recent morning, there were four COVID-19 patient 911 calls in a row for Nanakuli, a community that’s home to many Native Hawaiians. He noted that vaccination rates are lower on the west side of Oahu.

Earlier in the pandemic, Native Hawaiians had among the lowest rates of infection and embraced safety measures such as trading honi, a traditional forehead-to-forehead greeting, for elbow bumps or shakas from a distance.

That changed around May during the time of year when people celebrate graduations and weddings.

“I do think that it’s sad and kind of a little bit ironic that luau, in a lot of cases, have become places where people get sick,” said state Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole.

Keaweaimoku Kaholokula, chair of the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawaii’s medical school, said he didn’t expect some Hawaiians to shun the vaccine. “It’s very American, which is ironic — very individualistic — to behave this way,” he said.

“I think our people need to remember that a part of our culture is protecting each other over our own self-interest,” he said.

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The Groucho

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