A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

Alaska Voices: Vaccination is the still best protection from COVID-19

The Alaska State Medical Association encourages you to protect yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

By Janice Sheufelt, M.D.

As Alaskans move indoors with the arrival of winter snows, we reflect on the grief and opportunities of the past year and wonder if we are ready for the long winter. We think about Alaskan bounty of fish and berries and wild game, and we think about sharing our abundance with those we love. In this season of gratitude, we are grateful for our colleagues in medicine and nursing who have worked long shifts in protective equipment trying to save the lives of too many Alaskans sick with COVID-19.

We in the Alaska State Medical Association encourage you to join us and show your gratitude for these health care heroes by protecting yourselves and your community from preventable illness by getting recommended vaccines.

We want to be very clear that the recent conference in Anchorage advocating alternative early treatments for COVID-19 does not represent mainstream medical thought. When we as physicians do our research, we rely on peer-reviewed evidence like that gathered on the CDC’s website. The scientific evidence is very clear. The three available COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective. They are the best tools we have to prevent COVID-19 infection and especially serious illness, hospitalization and death.

As always, if you have questions about your specific medical situation, talk with your primary care physician or medical practitioner. Here are our recommendations for almost all Alaskans:

Get a COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for everyone aged 5 and up. They are safe and effective for kids, adults and pregnant people. 96% of physicians in America have chosen to get vaccinated and they are getting their children vaccinated.

If you have not gotten your first COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not too late to protect yourself in time for holiday travel and gatherings. Join the hundreds of thousands of Alaskan health care workers, military and federal workers and others who are fully vaccinated and well-protected.

If it has been more than six months since you got your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and you are at increased risk, get a booster to strengthen your protection.

If it has been more than two months since you got your J&J/Janssen vaccine, get your booster.

If you already had COVID-19 illness, a vaccine gives you longer-lasting, stronger protection than antibodies from the illness. We encourage you to get vaccinated.

Get a flu shot

Influenza has arrived in Alaska, and historically takes a big toll on Alaskans’ health. The yearly flu shot is good protection against serious influenza illness and protects you as well as vulnerable elders and immunocompromised people around you.

Catch up on health maintenance

If you put off a mammogram or other cancer screening, this is a good time to catch up.

As representatives of Alaska’s physicians, we wish you a happy and healthy winter season. We extend our gratitude to all Alaskans who are doing your part to keep yourselves and your community healthy.

Janice Sheufelt, M.D. is president of the Alaska State Medical Association.

More in Opinion

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…