A vial of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine is seen at Central Emergency Services Station 1 on Friday, Dec. 18 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaskans 65 and older next in line for COVID-19 vaccine

Alaskans ages 65 and older can begin scheduling appointments for Jan. 11 on Jan. 6

Alaskans ages 65 and older can receive their initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Jan. 11, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced Monday.

The group was originally set to be vaccinated in late January, however, the Alaska Vaccine Task Force adjusted the timeline forward after assessing how much vaccine is available to be administered.

Alaskans ages 65 and older who are interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine can begin scheduling their appointments on Jan. 6, with the first appointments scheduled for Jan. 11. Appointments can be made by contacting local providers, six of which are located on the Kenai Peninsula.

For the month December 2020, the state received 61,900 initial doses of the COVID vaccine, including allocations from Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech. For the month of January, the state will receive 52,900 initial allocations. So far, 114,800 initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from both companies have been allocated to the state. As of Jan. 4, 18,266 initial doses had been administered throughout the state.

Both Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccine, which have efficacy rates of more than 90%, require two doses to be fully effective. Pfizer’s doses must be administered 21 days apart, while Moderna’s must be administered 28 days apart.

Central Peninsula Hospital External Affairs Director Bruce Richards said Monday that they had administered 297 doses of the vaccine with another clinic scheduled for Tuesday, when they are expecting to administer around 70 more. CPH received a tray of 975 doses on Dec. 16, of which it kept 540.

All individuals identified by the state as part of Phase 1a Tiers 1, 2 and 3 are now able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes long-term care facility residents and staff, hospital-based front-line care workers, front-line EMS and Fire Service personnel, health care workers providing vaccines, Community Health Aides/Practitioners and some workers in health care settings who meet certain criteria outlined by DHSS.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska can be found on DHSS vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 232 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Monday, including 15 on the Kenai Peninsula. Affected peninsula communities include Sterling with six cases, Homer with three cases, Kenai with three cases, Anchor Point with two cases and Soldotna with one case.

The new cases bring Alaska’s statewide case total to 48,363, including 46,812 residents and 1,551 nonresidents.

As of Monday, CPH had conducted 10,623 tests with 9,860 negative, 702 positive and 44 pending results. CPH was treating four patients who were COVID-positive, none of whom were on ventilators. Two of CPH’s staff of around 1,000 were in quarantine.

Over the past week, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has conducted 1,098 tests and saw a positivity rate of 3.73%. To date, the borough has conducted 54,670 tests. The current statewide alert level, based on the average daily case rate for the last two weeks, is high. The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s alert level is also high at 22.27.

The state also reported no new hospitalizations and three deaths. To date, 1,033 people in Alaska have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and 218 people have died. Currently, there are 97 people hospitalized in Alaska who are COVID-19 positive or who are considered persons under investigation. Nine of the patients are on ventilators.

The three deaths were from death certificate review and include a Soldotna woman, Yukon-Kuskokwim Census Area man and a Yukon-Kuskokwim Census Area woman. All were ages 80 or older.

Alaska’s daily positivity rate for the past seven days, during which 29,295 tests were conducted, is 5.19%. To date, 1,297,498 tests have been conducted in Alaska.

In addition to the 15 new cases on the peninsula, the state also reported 81 cases in Anchorage, 30 in Wasilla, 17 in Bethel, 14 in Fairbanks, 13 in Palmer, 12 in Kusilvak Census Area, 11 in Eagle River, 10 in Bethel Census Area, four in North Pole, four in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, two in Chugiak, two in Kodiak, two in North Slope Borough and one each in Big Lake, Chevak, Girdwood, Haines, Hooper Bay, Nome, Nome Census Area, Petersburg, Valdez-Cordova Census Area/Copper River and Willow.

Five new nonresident cases were also reported. Three have purposes under investigation and two were reported in Anchorage.

COVID-19 vaccine providers on the Kenai Peninsula

In Soldotna, appointments can be scheduled at Soldotna Professional Pharmacy or at Peninsula Community Health Services. At both locations, appointments can be made via phone or online. Appointments at Peninsula Community Health Services can also be made via email.

Soldotna Professional Pharmacy has set times on Jan. 5, 14, 15, 18, 20 and 22. Peninsula Community Health Services has set times on Jan. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21. At Peninsula Community Health Services, a registration packet must be completed for appointment.

In Homer, appointments can be scheduled at South Peninsula Hospital or at SVT Health and Wellness – Homer. Appointments at South Peninsula Hospital can be made via an online survey and appointments at SVT can be made via phone.

South Peninsula Hospital has availability on Jan. 8 and 9. SVT Health and Wellness has set times on Jan. 12 and 13. People interested in going through SVT should allow 45 minutes to complete paperwork, receive their vaccine and wait a minimum of 15 minutes after being vaccinated.

In Seward, appointments can be scheduled at Seward Community Health Center or at Safeway Pharmacy. Appointments at Seward Community Health Center can be via phone and appointments at Safeway can be made online.

Seward Community Health Center has set times on Jan. 7, 12, 13 and 14. Safeway has set times on Jan. 6, 13 and 20. Individuals going through Safeway should bring their insurance card and be prepared to wait 15-30 minutes after being vaccinated.

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.

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 ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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