This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)

Alaska officials report 6 new COVID-19 deaths

The deaths included people in their 20s and 30s.

There were six recent COVID-related deaths reported Tuesday, according to the state Department of Health and Social Services.

They included an Anchorage man and two nonresident men in their 70s, a Dillingham Census Area man in his 60s, and two younger women — both Anchorage residents, one in her 30s and one in her 20s.

This pushes the fatality count to 431 in Alaska since the pandemic began.

The statewide COVID alert level remained high on Tuesday, as another 634 cases were reported.

The case count included 23 in Kenai, 17 in Soldotna, nine in Seward, eight in Sterling, six in Homer, five in both the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and Nikiski and two in the Kenai Peninsula Borough South.

Statewide, there were 152 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday.

This included 25 in the Gulf Coast, which includes the Kenai Peninsula. Additionally, nearly one-third — 31.3% — of all hospitalizations in this region were due to COVID complications.

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.

The 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 Tuesday. Another 60.7% had received at least dose of a vaccine.

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

As of Tuesday, 46.6% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated and another 50.4% had received at least one dose. The only census area to have a lower vaccination rate was the Matanuska-Susitna region on Tuesday, where just 38.6% 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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