State health officials address members of the media during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 24 in Alaska. (Screenshot)

State health officials address members of the media during a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 24 in Alaska. (Screenshot)

State to receive over 100,000 doses for March

The 103,120 figure is comparable to the allocations Alaska received for December, January and February combined.

State health officials reported that Alaska will receive more than 100,000 pairs of COVID vaccine for the month of March.

103,120 pairs of vaccine, or about 206,240 doses, were allocated to Alaska for the month of March 2021, officials announced during a Wednesday press briefing.

That includes 60,760 doses for the state and 32,720 for Indian Health Service (IHS). Of the 60,760 doses allocated to the state, 32,760 are Pfizer and 28,000 are Moderna. Of the 32,720 allocated to IHS, 18,720 are Pfizer and 14,000 are Moderna. In addition to those allocations, the state is also receiving a supplemental February allocation of 9,640 pairs of vaccine, including 6,070 for the state and 3,570 for IHS.

These allocations do not include doses allocated to the VA, to the Department of Defense, through the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination or via an FQHC partnership.

The 103,120 figure is comparable to the allocations Alaska received for December, January and February combined, which came out to 174,400 pairs of vaccine, or 348,800 doses.

According to the state’s vaccine tracker, 238,652 doses had been administered as of Wednesday, including 146,778 first doses and 92,630 second doses. On the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 15,661 doses had been administered as of Wednesday, including 10,058 initial doses and 5,629 second doses.

The state is also awaiting final approval of a COVID vaccine from Johnson & Johnson, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration analysis released Wednesday indicated support for emergency use authorization. If the vaccine receives the authorization, additional vaccine doses could arrive in Alaska as early as next week.

Officials said during the same briefing that a case of the P.1 COVID variant, first identified in travelers from Brazil, was also detected in an Anchorage resident who first tested positive for COVID earlier this week and had no history of travel. As of Tuesday, just five cases of the P.1 variant had been reported in four states nationwide.

They also clarified Wednesday who is eligible to be vaccinated under tiers that are currently open.

Who can get vaccinated

As of Wednesday, 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.

Officials said Wednesday that senior helpers have been added to Phase 1b, Tier 1. Specifically, people who help someone 65 or older get vaccinated are now eligible to be vaccinated at the same time. Both the senior and the person helping need to schedule an appointment at the same location and time and the person assisting doesn’t need to meet other eligibility requirements to be vaccinated.

Additionally, the definition of people who work in congregate settings that require interaction with others was expanded beyond the judicial system. Now, congregate settings may include people working in any system whose responsibilities require them to interact with people residing in congregate settings.

Lastly, health care workers in Phase 1a, Tier 3 was also expanded to include people who stay home to provide health care for a “medically fragile” individual, including providing daily support related to the person daily living activities

People who are unsure of whether or not they are eligible to be vaccinated can take an eligibility quiz on the state’s vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

Alaska continues to lead the nation in vaccine rollout. According to the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard, 20.1% of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is compared to the nationwide percentage of 13.2%, as reported by NPR’s COVID vaccine tracker. The state with the second-highest rate is New Mexico, where 19.3% of the population has received at least one dose.

As of Wednesday evening, more than 150 vaccine appointments were available at a clinic scheduled for March 13 at Beacon Occupational Health in Kenai.

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.

The state reported 179 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska on Wednesday, including four that were reported among nonresidents. Three new cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula, including one in Homer, one in Nikiski and one in Seward.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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