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)

Voices of the Peninsula: Vaccines, masks can help our community get back to normal

An open letter from members of the medical community.

Citizens of the Kenai Peninsula,

We are the medical professionals who serve you in times of need. We each have dedicated our lives to taking care of our community and feel compelled to provide you with the following evidence-based update on our local public health situation regarding COVID-19.

As delta variant cases are declining in most other parts of the United States, the cases and deaths in Alaska have been rising substantially. We are currently in the midst of an unprecedented surge in cases statewide.

While we were leading in vaccination rates in the early days of the pandemic, today several hospitals statewide are now unable to care for everyone due to overwhelming numbers of patients. Unfortunately, that extends to those who need medical attention for COVID or any other reasons because of overcrowding due to the recent COVID surge. This has led to critical care triage being announced in Anchorage, which more strictly rations care than any physician would desire.

We recognize that there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to COVID. At this time, however, available evidence overwhelmingly shows that vaccination is safe and reduces the risk of spread, severe disease, and death from COVID with limited side effects. As physicians we have overwhelmingly been vaccinated ourselves and feel that improving our community vaccination rate is a crucial factor in our ability to put this pandemic behind us. The research on this is sound, and after reviewing the evidence we as a medical community strongly endorse vaccination for all eligible patients 12 years and older with no identifiable contraindications.

Unfortunately, the delta variant has also changed the local situation substantially due to vastly increased rates of infection across all age groups. In solidarity with the CDC and multiple subspecialty guidelines, we also agree with recommendations for universal masking while local cases are high as a best practice to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and get back to our normal lives as quickly as possible.

We, the below named physicians and health care providers, stand together in support of this message.

Dr. Eric Anding

Dr. John Andreshak

Dr. Christopher Beaudoin

Dr. Bobbie Behrens

Dr. William Bell

Dr. Nicholas Berlon

Dr. Michael Blake

Dr. John Bramante

Dr. Amy Bukac

Dr. Andrew Butki

Dr. Robert Cadoff

Dr. Heather Callum

Dr. Elizabeth Cummings

Dr. Elizabeth Ehama

Dr. Maureen Filipek

Dr. Paula Godfrey

Dr. Craig Humphreys

Dr. Daniel Hyman

Dr. Kristina James

Dr. Kristen Jessen

Dr. William Kelley

Dr. Jesse Kincaid

Dr. Henry Krull

Dr. Kristina Lacy

Dr. Lori Lindsay

Dr. Isaac Lopez

Dr. Ned Magen

Dr. Jeff McDonald

Dr. Kristin Mitchell

Dr. Tyler Moffett

Dr. Gregg Motonaga

Dr. Darren Mullins

Dr. Gail Pokorney

Dr. Michael Reyes

Dr. Carolyn Roloff

Dr. Megan Roosen-Runge

Dr. Jessica Sieling

Dr. Allison Smith

Dr. Giulia Tortora

Dr. Christina Tuomi

Dr. Stephen Wahl

Dr. Rachel Walden

Dr. Angus Warren

Dr. James Zirul

EMS Captain Harrison Deever

Nurse Albi Tatum

Nurse Practitioner Ed Gonzalez

Nurse Practitioner Rachael Kincaid

Nurse Practitioner Carrie Warren

Physician Assistant Christine Pratt

Physician Assistant Susan Reed

Pharmacist Molly Hannigan

Pharmacist Meredith Mayfield

Pharmacist Justin Ruffridge

More in Opinion

This July 16, 2019, file photo shows the Capitol Dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Opinion: The Respect for Marriage Act represents a balanced approach

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has supported a “fairness for all” approach

Deven Mitchell greets his fellow members of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.’s Board of Trustees at the start of his interview to be the APFC’s new executive director on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: It’s an honor to now lead Alaska’s largest renewable resource

As a lifelong Alaskan, leading APFC is my childhood dream come true

Opinion: Freedom in the classroom sets precedence for the future

We advocate for the adoption of legislation to protect students’ First Amendment rights…

A roll of “I Voted” stickers await voters on Election Day in Alaska. Voters overwhelmingly rejected the prospect of a state constitutional convention. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Election winners, losers and poor losers

Tshibaka and Palin misread Alaskans by thinking Trump’s endorsement all but guaranteed they’d win.

This 1981 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an electron micrograph of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV. Children’s hospitals in parts of the country are seeing a distressing surge in RSV, a common respiratory illness that can cause severe breathing problems for babies. Cases fell dramatically two years ago as the pandemic shut down schools, day cares and businesses. Then, with restrictions easing, the summer of 2021 brought an alarming increase in what is normally a fall and winter virus. (CDC via AP)
Alaska Voices: What Alaskans need to know about RSV

By learning more about respiratory illnesses and taking helpful actions, we can all take steps to improve the situation

Homer Foundation
Point of View: Multiplying the power of every local dollar given

Each community foundation is a public charity that focuses on supporting a geographic area by pooling donations to meet community needs

The Homer Public Library as seen on Aug. 18, 2021, in Homer, Alaska. (File photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Point of View: Banning books corrodes diversity and inclusion in our community

Recently, a community member requested that a long list of books be removed from the children’s collection

Peninsula Oilers fans display encouragin signs for Oilers’ pitcher Bryan Woo, Friday, June 28, 2019, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)
Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Opinion: Judging judges — balancing the judicial selection process

Alaska’s method of selecting judges can be and should be improved.

Sarah Palin speaks at a July 11 Save America Rally featuring former President Donald Trump at Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The realities of Palin’s political demise

Palin wouldn’t be running for the seat if Rep. Don Young was still alive

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: What can a liberal and conservative agree on? Voting against a constitutional convention

“We disagree on many issues. But we… urge Alaskans to vote against Proposition 1.”