On the one-year anniversary of the announcement of Alaska’s first COVID-19 case, one in three Alaskans over the age of 16 — 33.1% —had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The milestone comes just days after the state announced it would offer vaccines to anyone who wanted them, becoming the first U.S. state to do so. Nearly 70% of Alaskans 65 and older — 68.7% — had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine as of Friday.
On the Kenai Peninsula, 12,845 of 47,102 borough residents 16 and older — about 27.27% — had already received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 6,550 of 11,317 borough residents 65 and older — about 57.88% — had already received at least one dose.
That is compared to the nationwide percentage of the population that has received at least one dose, which NPR’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker estimates is about 19.3%. NPR notes that they track vaccines among total populations, which includes children ineligible to be vaccinated.
The central peninsula’s largest COVID vaccine clinic to date was held on Saturday at Soldotna Prep School. The Kenai Fire Department also hosted a large vaccine clinic on Saturday at Beacon Occupational Health.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated earlier this week. People who are fully vaccinated, they said, can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They can also visit with low-risk unvaccinated people from a single household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They can also refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.
New guidance for nursing home residents who have been vaccinated came Wednesday as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that nursing home residents who are vaccinated against COVID-19 can visit with loved ones and all residents can enjoy more indoor visits, according to the Associated Press.
More than 575,000 individual doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been allocated to Alaska since last December. That number includes allocations for Indian Health Services (IHS) and to pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination, to which at least 10,480 pairs of vaccine have been allocated.
Through that program, Alaska’s pharmacy partners are Walmart Inc., Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Walgreens, meaning they receive vaccine allocations in addition to the state’s allocation. Through that program, the Kenai Walmart is able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to people eligible to receive it. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.
People who would like assistance with scheduling an appointment to be vaccinated can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.
A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov. Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment with a provider that does not use the state’s scheduling system can be found on the provider map by clicking on the icon of the provider people would like to schedule an appointment with. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.
The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. Rides will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out. In order to participate in the program, people must be going from an address located in Kenai to a clinic in Kenai and will need to provide proof of vaccination.
Weekly case update
Over the past week, 921 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alaska, a decrease from the number of cases reported last week. That includes 35 reported among nonresidents and 22 reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, where four new cases were reported on Friday. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with two cases, Homer with one case and Soldotna with one case.
Seventeen new hospitalizations and one new death were reported over the past week, bringing statewide totals to 1,318 and 306 among residents and nonresidents, respectively. As of Friday, there were 36 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska, including four who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Two of the patients were on ventilators. 3.3% of all hospitalizations statewide were due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 testing locations on the Kenai Peninsula
On the central peninsula, testing is available at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.
In Homer, testing is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the lower level of South Peninsula Hospital’s Specialty Clinic as well as through SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at the hospital at 907-235-0235 and at the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228. Testing is also available at Homer Public Health Center daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The testing is only for those traveling, symptomatic, needing testing for medical procedures, or with a known exposure after seven days. Only 20 tests will be offered per day. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970.
In Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.
This information is based on data reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services between March 6 and March 12.