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)

More than 20% of peninsula residents have at least 1 vaccine dose

Alaska continues to lead the nation in vaccine rollout

More than one in five peninsula residents over the age of 16 — 23.7% — have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. That’s higher than the 21.5% of the state population that has already received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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 10,480 pairs of vaccine had been allocated as of Tuesday.

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.

Alaska continues to lead the nation in vaccine rollout according to NPR’s COVID vaccine tracker. That tracker estimates that 15.3% of people nationwide have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The next highest state after Alaska is New Mexico.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were more than 100 vaccination appointments available at a March 13 clinic hosted by the Kenai Fire Department at Beacon Occupational Health. Other locations on the central peninsula offering the COVID vaccine include Soldotna Professional Pharmacy and Fred Meyer.

The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. The city council approved $5,000 for the program at their Jan. 20 meeting. 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.

As of Tuesday, people eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska included most health care providers, pre-K through 12th grade education staff, people 65 or older, people 50 or older with certain high-risk medical conditions and pandemic response staff, among others. People who help seniors 65 and older get vaccinated are also eligible to be vaccinated. Both the senior and the person helping need to schedule an appointment at the same location and time and the person assisting doesn’t need to meet other eligibility requirements to be vaccinated. People interested in receiving their COVID vaccine can determine whether or not they are eligible to receive it at covidvax.alaska.gov.

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.

Also on Tuesday, the state reported 159 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska, including 35 that were reported among nonresidents. Three cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula, including one in Homer, one in Kenai and one in Soldotna. The new cases bring the state’s total number of cases to 58,837, including 56,428 reported among residents and 2,409 reported among nonresidents.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough was considered to be at “intermediate” risk on Tuesday, with a 14-day average case rate of 3.21. The borough’s COVID-19 test positivity rate was 1.25% on Tuesday, compared to 2.25% statewide.

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.

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