State health officials address members of the media during a virtual press conference on Monday, Feb. 22 in Alaska. (Screenshot)

State health officials address members of the media during a virtual press conference on Monday, Feb. 22 in Alaska. (Screenshot)

Over half of peninsula seniors have at least 1 vaccine dose

5,773 of 11,317 people in the borough age 65 or older have received at least one vaccine dose

More than half of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s seniors have received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ newly revamped statewide vaccine dashboard. The dashboard shows that 5,773 of 11,317 people in the borough age 65 or older have received at least one vaccine dose, or around 51.01%.

That’s compared to the 9,635 people in the borough age 16 or older, of a total 47,102 people, who have received at least one dose, or about 20.56%. Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said via Twitter on Feb. 18 that 58% of Alaska’s seniors had received at least one dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

State health officials said during a press briefing on Monday that the vaccine dashboard, which now shows regional vaccine data on a map, is a work in progress and will continue to be developed throughout the week. One of the data points they plan to show are federal vaccine allocations to state pharmacies participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.

Walmart became Alaska’s first federal partner, which is how some Walmart locations throughout the state, including in Kenai, were allowed to begin offering the COVID-19 vaccine. As of Monday, Alaska’s participating pharmacy chains had grown to include Albertsons Companies, Inc. and Walgreens in addition to Walmart. The allocations participating pharmacies receive is in addition to federal allocations given to the state.

During the same press briefing, officials said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is meeting Friday to discuss Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. If the FDA approves Johnson & Johnson’s application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), theirs would be the third COVID-19 vaccine to enter the market and could arrive in Alaska as early as next week. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, unlike Pfizer and Moderna’s, only has one dose.

How to get vaccinated

As of Monday, 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 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.

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.

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.

By the numbers

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced that there were 346 new COVID-19 cases reported in the state over the last three days, including 68 new cases reported from Sunday. Two new cases were reported in the Kenai Peninsula Borough on Sunday, both in Soldotna.

State health officials announced Monday that a second case of a COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.7, was detected in someone who was tested after returning to Alaska from a state where the variant had also been reported. The person was tested at the airport and, as of Monday, state officials said there is no evidence of local circulation of the strain.

Thirty five nonresident cases were also reported over the last three days, most of which were in the seafood industry. Twenty four were reported in Unalaska. Three were reported in Aleutians East Borough. Three were reported in Anchorage. Two were reported in Fairbanks. One was reported in Prudhoe Bay and two have locations still under investigation.

Six new hospitalizations and one new death were reported over the past three days, bringing statewide totals to 1,213 and 287, respectively. The person who died was an Anchorage woman in her 70s. On Monday there were 39 people hospitalized in Alaska due to COVID-19, including four who were considered persons under investigation for the disease. Five of the patients were on ventilators.

Over the past three days, seven cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula, including three in Soldotna, two in Kenai, one in Homer and one in Seward. In addition to those cases, 74 were reported in Anchorage, 65 in Wasilla, 32 in Fairbanks, 22 in Palmer, 18 in Juneau, 16 in Bethel Census Area, 11 in North Pole, seven in Eagle River, seven in Ketchikan, seven in Petersburg, seven in Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, six in Kusilvak Census Area, four in Bethel, four in Chugiak, three in Denali Borough, three in Dillingham, three in Girdwood, two in Cordova, two in Mat-Su Borough, two in Northwest Arctic Borough, two in Sitka and one each in Big Lake, Copper River Census Area, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Hooper Bay, Utqiagvik, Wrangell and Yakutat plus Hoonah-Angoon.

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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