person preparing COVID-19 vaccine

The State of Hawaiʻi may reach 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. That’s according to a new report from the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

Experts predicted that taming COVID-19 will require between 70% and 85% of the population getting vaccinated, therefore 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, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows 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 is able to maintain this average, Hawaiʻi will vaccinate 75% of the state’s population by the first week of July.

UHERO is also closely monitoring the willingness of the unvaccinated population to get the vaccine. The numbers are encouraging, as recent survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 11% of the adult population in Hawaiʻi said they “probably” or “definitely” will not get a vaccine. 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.

Hawaiʻi’s economic activity

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.”

UHERO is housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences.

Read more on UHERO’s website.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.