COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Reported COVID-19 cases up; hospitalizations down statewide

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines

The state Department of Health and Social Services on Wednesday reported a total of 3,016 new COVID-19 cases from June 15 through June 21, up from last week’s total of 2,452 reported cases over a seven-day period.

DHSS also reported a total of 57 COVID-related hospitalizations in Alaska on Wednesday — down from 61 reported last week. No new deaths were reported. Because of the availability of at-home COVID testing, officials say hospitalization data is the most effective indicator of the prevalence of the virus.

Officials recommend all eligible Alaskans be up to date on their COVID vaccines to minimize the infection’s impact on communities.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna shot is approved for anyone 18 and older.

Last week the Associated Press also reported that a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel endorsed a second brand of Moderna vaccine for younger children, which may soon become available for children 6 to 17 years old. The panel also backed Pfizer’s shot for children under 5 last week.

As of Wednesday, 65.4% of Alaskans 5 and older were considered fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the DHSS. In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, that average was at 50.6%.

Booster shots are recommended, whether or not a person has already contracted the virus and despite elapsed time since the completion of the primary series.

The FDA said the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen shot should only be given to adults who cannot receive a different vaccine or specifically request J&J’s vaccine, according to the AP. U.S. authorities for months have recommended that Americans get Pfizer or Moderna shots instead of J&J’s vaccine, the AP reported.

The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recommending Pfizer boosters for anyone 12 and older at least five months after the primary series. Additionally, Moderna boosters are recommended for anyone 18 and older at least six months after a primary series.

For those 50 years and older who are up to date with their primary series and first booster, another dose of either Pfizer or Moderna is authorized four months after the initial booster dose. In this category, a person with three vaccines of any combination of Pfizer or Moderna is now eligible for a fourth dose, and those with a single Janssen shot and booster can now receive a third dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

In addition, certain immunocompromised individuals can also receive another Pfizer or Moderna shot four months after their last booster. This would include three shots for a primary series and two additional booster doses.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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