Coronavirus. (CDC photo)

Coronavirus. (CDC photo)

Half of eligible Alaskans have received 1st dose

COVID-19 update

The state hit a milestone over the weekend, as it reported on Monday that now 50% of the Alaskans 16 and up have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Two weeks ago, on April 19, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported that 40% of the state had received at least one shot.

This comes as the Food and Drug Administration is predicted to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids 12 to 15 years old next week, according to the Associated Press. The Pfizer shot is currently only FDA-approved for teens 16 and older.

According to the AP, Pfizer has already delivered 160 million doses to the United States. The number is expected to grow to around 200 million by the end of May.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 37.8% of Alaskans 16 and up are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 42% have received at least one dose. Over half of peninsula seniors — 62.3% — are fully vaccinated. Across all age groups, 29.9% of peninsula residents are fully vaccinated.

Out of 11 Alaska regions, the Kenai Peninsula Borough remains No. 9 in vaccine rollout, according to state data updated on Monday. The Southeast Region leads the state at a 63.7% vaccination rate for those 16 and older.

Across the state, vaccination distribution has nearly flatlined. The rate of people getting the shots is increasing, but slowly. Statewide from last week to this week, the number of Alaskans 16 and older who had received at least one dose grew 0.8%. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the number of people fully vaccinated grew by 0.9% from last week to this week.

Alaska remains at No. 11 in the nation for vaccine rollout at an estimated 36% across all ages, according to NPR. Around 31.6% of the country is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Weekend numbers

DHSS announced four new hospitalizations, and one new death — a Wasilla man in his 50s — on Monday. That brings the total number of Alaskans who have been hospitalized since the pandemic began to 1,493. Additionally there have been 342 COVID deaths in the state.

As of Monday, there were 66 total COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska, up 27 from last Monday, and nine patients on ventilators.

The DHSS also reported 271 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, bringing the statewide total to 65,678. Alaska remains at high-alert level, with an average daily case rate of 19.21 cases per 100,000 people, which is slightly down from last Monday.

The new case count includes 11 on the Kenai Peninsula, a slight drop from the 15 reported last Monday. Affected peninsula communities include Kenai with five, Anchor Point with two, and one each in Homer, Seward, Soldotna and Sterling.

Alaska also reported 70 new cases in Anchorage, 64 in Fairbanks, 29 in Wasilla, 21 in North Pole, 12 in Juneau, 11 in Palmer, eight in Ketchikan, six in Eagle River, four in Kodiak, three in both the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Prince of Wales-Hyder Census Area, two each in Big Lake, Chugiak, Delta Junction, the Northwest Arctic Borough, Sutton-Alpine and Willow, and one each in the Copper River Census Area, Houston, Kotzebue, the Kusilvak Census Area, the North Slope Borough, Sitka, Valdez, Wrangell, the Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

There were an additional seven new nonresident cases.

Getting vaccinated

A total of 116 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Monday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod 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. 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-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. To schedule a ride, Alaska Cab can be reached at 907-283-6000 and CARTS can be reached at 907-262-8900.

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

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