More than 1,000 Kenai Peninsula Borough residents received a COVID-19 vaccination over the weekend, which saw two large-scale vaccine clinics, including the central peninsula’s largest to date.
Dan Nelson, emergency manager for the Office of Emergency Management, said Monday that OEM is expecting demand for the vaccine to drop off once about 50% of the peninsula has been vaccinated. As of Monday, about 29% of peninsula residents 16 and older had received at least one dose.
A clinic hosted at Soldotna Prep School on Saturday had the capacity to vaccinate 840 people, though Nelson said they ultimately vaccinated just under 800 people. The doses not used during that clinic, he said, will be used at other, smaller clinics such as those hosted by individual pharmacies.
“I would suspect that for the next few months we will still support this effort [until] we see that the demand is really dropping and we feel that people can get their appointments in the private sector,” Nelson said.
Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, which has partnered with the borough for large vaccination clinics, including Saturday’s at Soldotna Prep School, posted three new days of clinics that had more than 90 appointments open between them as of Monday at 4 p.m. All clinics will offer the Moderna vaccine.
On the same day in Kenai, a clinic run by the Kenai Fire Department successfully vaccinated about 270 people, Nelson said, pushing the total number of people vaccinated between the two clinics to more than 1,000.
Nelson said that emergency management expects to continue assisting with large vaccine clinics for the next couple of months. One of the benefits to holding clinics on weekends, he said, is that they are able to accommodate people who are working during appointments offered during the weekdays. Additionally, the role of clinics may shift over time. In the summer, for example, they may have to look at vaccinating the peninsula’s seasonal workers.
Nearly 30% of Kenai Peninsula Borough residents 16 or older — 29.9% — had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday. That’s compared to the percent of borough residents 65 and older who have received at least one dose: 59%. In total, roughly one in four of all borough residents — 23.9% — have received at least one dose.
About one in three Alaskans over the age of 16 statewide — 33% — have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine. The milestone comes less than one week after the state announced it would offer vaccines to anyone who wanted them, becoming the first U.S. state to do so. Nearly 70% of Alaskans 65 and older — 68.6% — had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine as of Monday.
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 21%. NPR notes that they track vaccines among total populations, which includes children ineligible to be vaccinated.
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.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org.