COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Peninsula, state show slowing vaccination rates

Close to one in two eligible Alaska residents — 43.8% — were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday.

Alaska dropped in the state race to herd immunity this week, finishing at No. 11 in the country for COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Last week the state finished the week at No. 5, while this week Alaska doesn’t appear in the top 10, according to NPR’s COVID tracker on Friday. Two weeks ago, Alaska was No. 2 nationwide.

The tracker estimated that around 30% of the U.S. across all ages had been inoculated. Researchers predict anywhere from 70% to 85% of people will need to be fully vaccinated in order to stop the spread of the virus. According to the data updated on Friday, positive COVID-19 cases in the Kenai Peninsula Borough also dropped, by 49%, in the last seven days. Last week the borough saw 91 cases. This week the Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services reported 47. This is much more than the decrease statewide — 6% — from last week to this week. Alaska saw 1,050 new positive COVID cases this week. This is compared to the 1,116 the state reported last week, according to the DHSS. The majority of new cases still remain among people between the ages of 20 and 39.

Additionally, close to one in two eligible Alaska residents — 43.8% — were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Friday. However, the percentage rate of people getting the shot is increasing at a slower rate. The state reported a 1.9% increase in vaccinations from last Friday, which is less than the previous week’s data showing a 2.8% increase.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough has consistently reported a higher number of positive cases this week. On April 24, while the Kenai Peninsula Borough reported three new cases, Fairbanks North Star reported 105. In the Fairbanks region, 36.5% of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Fairbanks North Star Borough has the most cases per 100,000 people out of all other regions in the state.

Vaccine appointments

There were 100 vaccination appointments available across central peninsula clinics as of Friday, according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

The appointments are available through Soldotna Professional Pharmacy at its clinic, as well as the Sterling Community Center, CES Kasilof and Soldotna Prep School. 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.

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. 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.

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 and to pharmacies participating in the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 vaccination, to which at least 29,240 pairs of vaccine have been allocated.

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.

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 Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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