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)

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)

COVID update: Senior vacciation rate nears 70% statewide

Nearly one in four eligible Alaska residents — 24.8% — were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday.

That milestone comes the week after Alaska became the first U.S. state to offer vaccines to everyone who was eligible. Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine is available to anyone 16 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is available to anyone 18 and older.

More than 35% of Alaskans 16 and older had received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday. The rates are higher for Alaska’s seniors. Nearly 70% of Alaska residents 65 and older — 69.5% — had received one dose and 61.4% were fully vaccinated as of Friday.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 14,922 of 47,102 Kenai Peninsula Borough residents 16 and older — about 31.68% — had already received one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine as of Friday. 6,770 of 11,317 borough residents 65 and older — about 59.82% — had already received at least one dose.

That is compared to the nationwide percentage of the population who have received at least one dose, which NPR’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker estimates is about 22.7%. NPR notes that they track vaccines among total populations, which includes children ineligible to be vaccinated.

Weekly COVID case update

Over the past week, 887 COVID-19 cases were reported in Alaska, a decrease from the number of cases reported last week. That includes 29 reported among nonresidents and 33 reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, where one new case was reported on Friday, in Seward.

Ten new hospitalizations and one new death were reported over the past week, bringing statewide totals to 1,353 and 310 among residents and nonresidents. As of Friday, there were 39 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Alaska, including two who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. One of the patients was on a ventilator. 3.7% of all hospitalizations statewide were due to COVID-19.

How to get vaccinated

COVID-19 vaccination appointments on the central Kenai Peninsula were available at clinics offered by Soldotna Professional Pharmacy as of Friday at 12:15 p.m.

More than 575,000 individual doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been allocated to Alaska since last December. That number includes allocations for Indian Health Services (IHS) and to pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination, to which at least 29,240 pairs of vaccine have been allocated.

Through that program, Alaska’s pharmacy partners are Walmart Inc., Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Walgreens, meaning they receive vaccine allocations in addition to the state’s allocation. Through that program, the Kenai Walmart is able to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to people eligible to receive it. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.

People who would like assistance with scheduling an appointment to be vaccinated can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 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.

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 with a provider that does not use the state’s scheduling system can be found on the provider map by clicking on the icon of the provider through which people would like to schedule an appointment. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.

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-served 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 Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

This information is based on data reported by Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services between March 13 and March 19.

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