A sign advertising free COVID-19 vaccines stands outside Safeway on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign advertising free COVID-19 vaccines stands outside Safeway on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)

4 more COVID deaths statewide; hospital ICU full

Another 801 cases were reported statewide.

Alaska reported four COVID-related deaths Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.

They included three Anchorage men — one in his 40s, one in his 50s and one older than 80 — and a Bethel area woman in her 40s.

This pushes the fatality count in Alaska to 435 since the pandemic began.

The statewide COVID alert level remained high on Wednesday, as another 801 cases were reported.

The case count included 30 in Soldotna, 25 in Kenai, 11 in Sterling, nine in Homer, eight in Seward, five in Nikiski, three in Anchor Point, two in the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and one in the Kenai Peninsula Borough South.

Statewide, there were 168 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday.

At Central Peninsula Hospital, there were 23 patients — 19 unvaccinated — hospitalized for COVID, with eight of them in the intensive care unit and two on ventilators. The ICU at the hospital was full on Wednesday, according to data provided by the hospital.

Health officials say that choosing to get vaccinated is the single best tool there is to protect the people in each community.

The Pfizer-BioNTech, now marketed as Comirnaty vaccine, received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration last week for anyone 16 and older.

Pfizer is still available via emergency use authorization to kids 12 to 15 years old, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shots have an EUA for anyone 18 and older.

Across the state, 55% of everyone 12 and up was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Another 61% had received at least partial dosage.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough continues to lag behind many places in the state.

As of Tuesday, 47% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated and another 51% had received at least one dose. The only census area to have a lower vaccination rate was the Matanuska-Susitna region on Tuesday, where 39% of the eligible population was fully vaccinated.

Getting a COVID vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including pharmacies in Walmart, Walgreens, and the Kenai Fire Department offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

People who would like assistance with scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. 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.

COVID testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. Starting August 17, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-through testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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