In the three weeks since its opening, the walk-in vaccine clinic in the strip mall at the “Y” intersection in Soldotna has been getting more people vaccinated against COVID-19 on the peninsula.
Nurses Debbie Aubin and Tracy Silta were administering vaccines at the “Y” — the intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling Highways — on Wednesday.
“It was really slow in the beginning,” Aubin said. “But word’s getting out … so we’ve been getting busier and busier.”
She said they vaccinated around 12 people yesterday.
“It doesn’t sound like much but it’s 12 more people than we would have had,” Aubin said.
There have been some tourists, fishermen and quite a few newly eligible children in the 12- to 15-year-old age range who have come in to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, she said.
Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine authorized for people 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.
Since the Pfizer interval between doses is approximately three weeks, Aubin said she’s already seen a lot of 12- to 15-year-olds come in for their second shot.
“As soon as it opened some parents went right at it and got their kids right in, so that’s great,” she said.
Gavin Hunt, a 13-year-old incoming freshman at Kenai Central High School, said he wanted to get vaccinated to be able to go back to school in person. He spent his entire eighth grade year in the Distance Learning program.
“I feel like the world’s already in anarchy and we should start doing something to make it not in anarchy,” Hunt said as his mother chuckled in the corner.
He received his second Pfizer dose at the walk-in clinic on Wednesday.
Hunt said he’s also looking forward to being able to gather with his friends once the pandemic is in the rearview.
“Inviting big groups of people into birthday parties, that was fun,” he said.
Also at Wednesday’s walk-in clinic were the Wohlers brothers: 14-year-old Caleb and 12-year-old Isaac.
“I wanted to get it because things are starting to require it now and it’s better to have it than to not have it,” Caleb said.
The brothers said their experience at the walk-in clinic was simple. Patients are asked to fill out a form with personal information, then are free to choose between any of the vaccines they are eligible for. The walk-in clinic has each of the three shots authorized in the U.S.
“It was painless,” Caleb said.
The Wohlers brothers said they are both looking forward to not having to wear masks once they’re fully vaccinated.
Also in to get his first dose of Moderna on Wednesday was David Lemay. He works for four weeks and then is off, so he had to be intentional with his timing.
Lemay said his wife persuaded him to get the vaccine, but he also wanted to prepare for some summer travel.
“I don’t want any complications through the airports and stuff like that,” he said.
He said he found out about the clinic by just driving by.
“I drive by it every day,” Lemay said. “I’ve been thinking about it for a couple weeks now, and this is real convenient.”
Aubin said she’s worked at different vaccine clinics that required appointments, so she hopes to reach more people with walk-ins.
“This way you can pop in when it’s convenient,” she said. “All we can do is be available, try to make it convenient …whatever it takes.”
The walk-in clinic at the “Y” is open Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. No appointments are necessary.