Dr. David Zielke, left, a pulmonary critical care physician, receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Emily Schubert, the employee health nurse at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Front-line health care workers are among the first in Alaska to receive the vaccine. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Dr. David Zielke, left, a pulmonary critical care physician, receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine from Emily Schubert, the employee health nurse at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Front-line health care workers are among the first in Alaska to receive the vaccine. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

State front-line health care workers get 1st vaccinations

The state began receiving more than 35,000 doses of the vaccine late Sunday, with distribution planned across Alaska.

  • By Mark Thiessen Associated Press
  • Tuesday, December 15, 2020 11:07pm
  • NewsCoronavirus

By Mark Thiessen

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE — Coronavirus vaccinations reached the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage as the rollout spread across the state.

Front-line medical workers at the center waited Tuesday to receive their first shot and get instructions on when to return for a second injection as part of the two-step process.

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Dr. David Zielke, a pulmonary critical care physician at the medical center, said before Emily Schubert, the employee health nurse, administered his shot.

Zielke said he’s read the safety data and recommends the vaccine to others.

“It seems like a very reasonable thing to do,” he said.

Jay Francis, a physician’s assistant in the critical care department, also rolled up his sleeve for a shot.

He wasn’t worried about getting vaccinated but didn’t know what to say to those who have doubts.

“I mean, it’s a personal choice,” he said. “So as far as that goes, it would be responsible to do it, but I don’t know. Still free will and free choice.”

The state began receiving more than 35,000 doses of the vaccine late Sunday, with distribution planned across Alaska. That allocation includes 11,700 doses designated for Alaska tribes by the Indian Health Service.

The vaccine arrived as more than 300,000 COVID-19-related deaths have been reported across the country. Alaska health officials have reported 178 deaths and more than 40,000 total cases.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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