COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)

Statewide average case numbers double in 1 week

Alaska reported an estimated rolling average of 583.3 cases per 100,000 people daily over the past seven days.

The state Department of Health and Social Services announced 1,597 new COVID cases on Wednesday — up from 996 new cases last week on Dec. 29.

Cases have increased sharply over the past two weeks. Wednesday’s new cases included 19 in Kenai, 15 in Homer, 13 in Soldotna, four in Seward, three in Anchor Point, two in Nikiski and one in the Kenai Peninsula Borough South.

Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Wednesday — with an estimated rolling average of 583.3 cases per 100,000 people daily over the past seven days.

That’s up from last Wednesday’s average of 237.8 cases per 100,000.

Statewide there were 61 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Wednesday, with 11 of those patients on ventilators.

Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID.

As of Monday, 60.1% of Alaskans 5 and older were fully vaccinated, and another 67.2% had received at least one dose. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is further behind in its vaccination efforts, with 47.4% of people 5 and older fully vaccinated and 51.3% with at least one shot as of Monday.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older. The Food and Drug Administration expanded its guidance Monday to recommend Pfizer boosters to 12- to 15-year-olds five months after their second dose, as well as allowing for a third primary dose for immunocompromised children ages 5 to 11.

The FDA also recommends Pfizer boosters for anyone 16 and older.

Moderna boosters are also approved for anyone 18 and older and six months out from their second dose.

The J&J vaccine booster is recommended two months after the primary dose, although the FDA revised its fact sheet for the J&J shot to include more data on the risks of blood clotting associated with the vaccine.

Getting a COVID vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money.

Many organizations on the central peninsula, including Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

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

People who would like assistance scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. 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.

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