COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID hospitalizations up from last week

Hospitalization data is the most effective indicator of the prevalence of the virus

The state Department of Health and Social Services reported a total of 87 COVID-19-related hospitalizations in Alaska on Wednesday — up from 57 reported last week.

There were also a total of 3,660 new COVID cases from June 22 through June 28, also an increase from last week’s total of 3,016 reported cases over a seven-day period. Because of the availability of at-home COVID testing, however, officials say hospitalization data is the most effective indicator of the prevalence of the virus.

Newly reported cases have been steadily increasing since June 8, according to state data, although hospitalizations have remained low.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities.

Anyone over 6 months old is eligible for a vaccine, and the state recommends individuals receive either a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna shot. The Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine is also approved for anyone 18 and older.

As of Wednesday, 64.6% of Alaskans 5 and older were considered fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the DHSS.

Booster shots are recommended, whether or not a person has already contracted the virus and despite elapsed time since the completion of the primary series. Everyone 5 and older is eligible for a booster dose.

Officials for months have recommended that Americans get Pfizer or Moderna boosters instead of J&J’s vaccine. The FDA said the J&J shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request it.

For those 50 years and older who are up to date with their primary series and first booster, a second booster dose is recommended. In addition, certain moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals can also receive a second booster.

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 DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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