RN Rachel Verba (right) administers a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to Dr. Chris Michelson on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Bruce Richards/CPH)

RN Rachel Verba (right) administers a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to Dr. Chris Michelson on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Bruce Richards/CPH)

Several hundred vaccination slots still open

Appointments are available at multiple central peninsula clinics.

More than 250 COVID-19 vaccination appointments were available across multiple central peninsula clinics as of Thursday at 4:30 p.m. according to PrepMod, the online portal through which appointments can be scheduled. PrepMod can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

The Kenai Fire Department will host a clinic on March 24 at Beacon Occupational Health and will offer the Moderna vaccine. The Soldotna Fred Meyers will hold a clinic on March 25 and will offer the Moderna vaccine. The Nikiski Fire Department will host a clinic at the Nikiski Senior Center on March 27 and will offer the Moderna vaccine. Soldotna Professional Pharmacy will host a clinic at CES Kasilof Station 6 on March 31 and will offer the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine. Soldotna Professional Pharmacy will host a separate clinic at Soldotna Prep School on April 3 and will offer the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

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 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.

Vaccination rates

More than one in four Alaskans 16 and older — 27% — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 39.2% have received at least one dose, according to state data updated on Wednesday. That’s compared to an estimated 63% of Alaskans 65 and older who are fully vaccinated and 71% who have received at least one dose.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, just over one in five residents over the age of 16 — 23.62% — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 33.7% have received at least one dose. More than half of peninsula seniors — 54.5% — are fully vaccinated. Across all age groups, about 18.88% of peninsula residents are fully vaccinated.

That is compared to the nationwide percentage of the population who have received at least one dose, which NPR’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker estimates is about 25.7%. NPR notes that they track vaccines among total populations, which includes children ineligible to be vaccinated. NPR’s tracker also estimates that Alaska and New Mexico are leading the nation in the percentage of the population that is fully vaccinated.

Since the state began offering the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone living or working in Alaska over the age of 16, DHSS has also been tracking vaccine distribution among nonresidents. As of Thursday, state data showed that there were at least 5,268 nonresidents who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. In total, more than 7,937 vaccine doses have been administered among nonresidents in Alaska.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidance for people who are fully vaccinated earlier this month. People who are fully vaccinated, they said, can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They can also visit with low-risk unvaccinated people from a single household indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing. They can also refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.

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 nearly 30,000 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.

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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