The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will hold its first COVID-19 vaccine clinics for district staff a week from Friday, following an announcement by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services last week that education staff are now eligible to receive the vaccine.
Clinics for the central, southern and eastern peninsula will all be held on the same day. First doses will be administered on Friday, Feb. 26 and second doses will be administered on Friday, March 19.
District staff in the central and southern peninsula who said they wanted the vaccine in a previously circulated survey were emailed private links to sign up for an appointment at their region’s clinic. Staff in the eastern peninsula were contacted via phone.
Bud Sexton, operations manager for the borough Office of Emergency Management, said knowing there was a group who wanted the vaccine made it possible for the borough to get vaccine allocations from the state to hold the school employee clinics. There was a short amount of time to do that, he said.
“That was why with a really short window of time we could schedule that to take care of that one group of individuals,” he said on Tuesday.
Erkeneff said Tuesday that the district’s clinics cannot be accessed using the state’s vaccine resources, such as the interactive map of providers, but that the private link provided to staff does go through the state scheduling software for the KPBSD vaccine clinics.
The central peninsula clinic will be held at the Soldotna Prep School and will be hosted by district nurses and staff with oversight from OEM and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy. The southern peninsula clinic will be held at Christian Community Church and will be staffed by KPBSD school nurses with oversight by South Peninsula Hospital. The eastern peninsula clinic will be held and hosted by Seward Community Health Center.
For their respective clinics, the central peninsula has 250 pairs of vaccine, or 500 total doses, the southern peninsula has 120 pairs of vaccine, or 240 doses, and the eastern peninsula has 40 pairs of vaccine, or 80 doses. Pairs of vaccine account for a person’s first and second doses.
DHSS announced last week that pre-K through 12th grade education staff were eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the newest eligibility tier to open. That tier, Phase 1b Tier 2, also includes people age 50 years and older with either certain high-risk medical conditions or an essential frontline job, child care workers, and those living in congregate settings, among others.
People in that tier who are not school staff may be able to sign up for unused appointments for the Feb. 26 clinic in Homer, said Derotha Ferraro, public information officer for South Peninsula Hospital. Teachers and support staff had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to sign up. After that, unused appointments became available for other Tier 2 people. The hospital will announce availability Friday on its website at www.sphosp.org.
For the months of December, January and February, Alaska received an allocation of 174,400 pairs of vaccine, or 348,800 total doses including first and second doses. As of Tuesday, 193,614 doses had already been administered, including 128,304 initial doses and 65,310 second doses, though those numbers are expected to be higher due to a lag in reporting. According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 13,052 doses had been administered in the Kenai Peninsula Borough, including 8,865 initial doses and 4,187 second doses.
Alaska currently leads the nation in the percentage of the population that have received at least one dose, with 17.3% of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose, according to NPR’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker. That is compared to the nationwide percentage of 11.5%.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska can be found on DHSS’ vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at firstname.lastname@example.org. Homer News editor Michael Armstrong contributed to this article. Reach him at email@example.com.