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)

Moderna vaccine proves effective in kids 12 and up

Nearly 3,000 12- to 15-year-olds in Alaska had received their first Pfizer dose as of May 20.

Moderna, Inc. announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 vaccine trial on kids ages 12 to 17 has met its primary endpoint — providing an efficacy rate of 93% — and plans to submit the clinical results to the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies in early June.

This comes after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was granted approval by both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for emergency use in kids between 12 and 15 years old earlier this month.

Nearly 3,000 12- to 15-year-olds in Alaska had received their first Pfizer dose as of May 20, according to officials with the Department of Health and Social Services.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna, Inc., said in a press release from the company that she is encouraged by the results of the clinical trial.

“We are encouraged that [the vaccine] was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in adolescents,” she said. “It is particularly exciting to see that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can prevent … infection.”

According to the release, 3,732 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 participated in the trial. Some participants were given the vaccine and others were given a placebo. The company detected zero positive COVID cases in the vaccinated children, and four positive cases among the kids who had received the placebo.

New cases

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced 38 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Alaska remains at the intermediate alert level — categorized by having an average of between 4.8 and 10 positive COVID cases per 100,000 people — at 7.99 positive cases.

The new case count includes three on the Kenai Peninsula. Kenai reported two and Anchor Point had one. The Kenai Peninsula Borough also remains in the intermediate alert division.

The borough reported an average of 6.3 cases on Tuesday. The Northwest region is the lowest risk of all 11 census regions, with only 2.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Alaska also saw 12 new cases in Anchorage, seven in Fairbanks, three in both the Southeast Fairbanks Census Area and Wasilla, two in North Pole, and one each in the Bethel Census Area, Ketchikan, the Kusilvak Census Area, Palmer, Salcha and Unalaska.

There have been 1,555 resident hospitalizations and 362 resident deaths since the pandemic began, with two new hospitalizations and zero new deaths reported on Tuesday. According to the DHSS, there are currently 16 COVID-related hospitalizations with two of the patients on ventilators.

Vaccination rates

State vaccination rates have been updated to reflect the newly eligible 12- to 15-year-old demographic, which now qualifies for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Anyone 18 and older is eligible for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shots.

Over half of Alaskans 12 and older — 52% — had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, and 45% were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 39% of people 12 and up were fully vaccinated.

Out of 11 Alaska regions, the Kenai Peninsula Borough ranks No. 10 in vaccine rollout at 39%. The Juneau Region leads the state with a 66% vaccination rate for those 12 and older, according to data updated on Tuesday.

Getting vaccinated

Multiple vaccination appointments were available as of Tuesday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

These clinics include the Kenai Public Health Center and the Nikiski Fire Department.

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.

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, Dena’ina Health Clinic, 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 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.

In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. 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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