COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID cases, hospitalizations down

Starting next week, an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine will be available in Alaska

The State Department of Health reported Wednesday that 62 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19. Two of those patients are on ventilators. This is a decrease from last week, when DOH reported that 80 patients were hospitalized. At that time, five patients were reported to be on ventilators.

According to state data, as of Wednesday four patients were hospitalized in the Gulf Coast region, which includes the Kenai Peninsula, Kodiak and the Chugach census area. This is down from seven last week.

No new Alaska resident deaths were reported by the state this week, though these are reported in batches and are not updated weekly. The last update was two weeks ago, when eight deaths were confirmed, spanning from April to July of this year. So far, no deaths have been reported for the month of August.

Due to the widespread availability of at-home COVID testing, officials say hospitalization and recent death data are more effective indicators of the spread of the virus than case counts.

For the period of Aug. 31 to Sept. 6, 1,391 new COVID-19 cases were reported, with 902 being Alaska residents. The number of statewide cases is down from last week, when officials reported 1,988 new cases for the period of Aug. 24 to Aug. 30.

For the most recent week, 35 cases were reported in Kenai, Soldotna and Nikiski, a significant decrease from 79 cases reported in the same area last week. Homer had 16 new cases and Seward had 13.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities. Anyone 6 months and older is eligible for a primary vaccination series and everyone 5 and up can receive a booster.

Starting next week, an updated bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine will be available in Alaska. These are available to individuals who are 12 years of age or older, and are designed to tackle both the original COVID-19 strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron.

This new booster will be available to eligible individuals at least two months after their last shot; whether that was a booster dose or their primary vaccine series.

Boosters are recommended whether or not a person has already contracted the virus.

As of Wednesday, 68% of Alaskans have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Only 28.3% have received the first booster. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, only 23.5% of residents have received a booster dose, according to state data.

Officials recommend that Americans get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and boosters. The FDA has said the Johnson & Johnson shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or who specifically request it.

For more information on vaccine eligibility, visit https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/covid-19/vaccineinfo.aspx.

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

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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