COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Borough vaccination rate growing slower than state average

The number of fully vaccinated Kenai Peninsula Borough residents 16 and older has increased by 10.4% since April 5.

COVID-19 vaccination rates in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are increasing at a slower rate than the state average, according to data from the Department of Health and Social Services updated on Wednesday.

Statewide, the number of Alaskans 16 and older who are fully vaccinated grew 2% in the last seven days. The number of Alaskans across all ages who have received at least one dose in the last seven days grew 0.8%.

Since April 5, the number of fully vaccinated Alaskans 16 and older has increased by 12%.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, however, the number of people 16 and older who are fully vaccinated grew 1.8% in the last seven days, 0.2% less than the statewide average. Across all ages in the last week, the vaccination rate grew by 0.6%, also 0.2% less than the statewide average.

The number of fully vaccinated Kenai Peninsula Borough residents 16 and older has increased by 10.4% since April 5.

On Wednesday, 43.2% of Alaskans 16 and up were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data. That number was lower in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, at 37.4%.

Alaska dropped again, to No. 9 in the nation, for vaccine rollout at 34.1% across all ages, according to NPR. Last Wednesday, the state sat at No. 5.

The United States remains at No. 10 worldwide in vaccine rollout, according to CNN on Thursday. The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar leads the world with a 95.1% vaccination rate.

New cases

DHSS announced 183 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 65,100. Alaska remains at high-alert level with about 21.48 positive cases statewide per 100,000 people.

The new case count includes 16 on the Kenai Peninsula: Kenai with five, Soldotna with four, the Kenai Peninsula Borough South with three, Anchor Point with two, and both Sterling and the Kenai Peninsula Borough North with one.

Out of the seven Alaska regions in the high alert division, categorized by having 10 or more positive cases per 100,000 people, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is the third highest with 18.79. In contrast, the Northwest Region is on low alert, with an average of only 3.48 cases per 100,000 people.

Alaska also saw 46 in Fairbanks, 35 in Anchorage, 30 in Wasilla, 11 in North Pole, nine in Palmer, seven in the Kusilvak Census Area, five in Chugiak, four in Eagle River, three in both the Bethel Census Area and Ketchikan, two in Big Lake, and one each in the Chugach Census Area, Copper River Census Area, Healy, Juneau, Nome, Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, Tok and Willow.

The DHSS also announced five new hospitalizations and zero new deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 1,476 and 341. As of Wednesday, there were 54 total COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska, with six of the patients on ventilators.

Getting vaccinated

A total of 136 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Wednesday according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

These include the Nikiski Fire Department and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy at its clinic and at Soldotna Prep School, CES Kasilof and the Sterling Community Center.

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 through alternative entities can be found on the map by clicking the icon of the preferred provider. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.

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.

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-serve 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.

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 Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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