The state Department of Health and Social Services reported another recent COVID-19 death Wednesday — an Anchorage man older than 80. That pushes the state’s COVID death toll to 466, contributing to the more than 680,000 fatalities across the country since the pandemic began.
Additionally, the state announced another 1,251 positive COVID cases as Alaska remained at a high alert level — with an estimated seven-day rolling average of 823.8 cases per 100,000 people across the state.
The case count included 16 in Kenai, 14 in Soldotna, 12 in Homer, five in Seward, two in Anchor Point, two in Nikiski and one each in the Kenai Peninsula Borough North and Sterling.
Statewide, there were 213 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday.
At Central Peninsula Hospital there were 21 COVID patients on Wednesday morning — 18 unvaccinated — with five of them in the intensive care unit and one on a ventilator. The intensive care unit was operating at 100% capacity and the hospital as a whole was at 122% capacity Wednesday.
Health officials widely agree 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 the Comirnaty vaccine, received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration last month 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, 58% of everyone 12 and up was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Another 62.6% had received at least one shot.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s vaccination rate continues to lag behind many other regions.
As of Wednesday, 48.6% of people 12 and older were fully vaccinated and another 52% had received at least one dose. The only census area to have a lower vaccination rate was the Matanuska-Susitna region on Wednesday, which just recently broke 40%.
Getting a COVID vaccine
COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.
As an incentive to get the shots, the DHSS and Alaska Chamber of Commerce launched a lottery program for newly vaccinated eligible residents that offers weekly winners a prize of at least $49,000. To find out the eligibility requirements or to enter into the giveaway sweepstakes, visit giveakashot.com. The lottery lasts through Oct. 30.
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 Sept. 14, the Seward Community Health Center is offering drive-through testing Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.