A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic to be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. A flu clinic also will be held at the same time at the high school. Appointments are encouraged for the Pfizer clinic. Visit www.sphosp.org for information. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

A portable sign on the Sterling Highway advertises a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccinaton booster clinic to be held 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, at Homer High School in Homer, Alaska. A flu clinic also will be held at the same time at the high school. Appointments are encouraged for the Pfizer clinic. Visit www.sphosp.org for information. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

COVID-19 booster clinic is Friday

Flu, COVID-19 booster clinic will be held Friday.

With the Food and Drug Administration recently approving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for a third booster shot, South Peninsula Hospital holds a clinic for people in qualifying groups to get their third Pfizer shot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Homer High School. An influenza vaccine clinic also will be held at the same time. Public health officials advise that flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be received at the same time.

Individuals can get the Pfizer vaccine, also called Comirnaty under its FDA approved name, if they were fully vaccinated with Pfizer at least six months earlier and fall into one of the following categories: people 65 years or older, residents in long term care settings and people 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. Additional groups may receive the booster based on individual benefits and risks.

The rollout of booster shots comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge statewide and Alaska remains in the high alert level. From the reporting period of Oct. 5 through Oct. 11, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the southern Kenai Peninsula has seen 72 cases, with 52 for Homer, 13 for Anchor Point, six for the Kenai Peninsula South and one for Fritz Creek. That’s an increase over the 51 positive cases reported by South Peninsula Hospital for the week before.

In comparison to the central peninsula, however, according to the Kenai Peninsula School District’s COVID-19 dashboard, the southern peninsula on Wednesday had 564 cases per 100,000, almost a third that of the central peninsula with 1,458 cases per 100,000. The eastern peninsula has the lowest rate of cases per 100,000 at 176.

Statewide for Oct. 5 to Oct. 11, 29 deaths were reported, with two in Kenai and two in Soldotna. There have been no reported deaths for the southern peninsula.

For the reporting period of Oct. 11, on Tuesday, Oct. 12, DHSS reported 464 new residents tested positive for COVID-19 and 11 new nonresident cases, for a total of 119,546 resident cases and 5,003 nonresident cases. Sixteen people were reported to have died of COVID-19: a Kenai man in his 60s, a Kenai man in his 50s, two Fairbanks men in their 60s, a Fairbanks man in his 40s, an Anchorage man age 80 or older, an Anchorage man in his 70s, two Anchorage men in their 60s, an Anchorage woman in her 50s, two Anchorage men in their 50s, an Anchorage man in his 40s, an Anchorage woman in her 30s and an Anchorage man in his 20s.

That brings the death total to 590.

There has been a total of 2,561 Alaskans hospitalized with COVID-19, with 33 new hospitalizations reported for Monday. Currently, 186 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 and 33 considered persons under investigation are hospitalized, with 26 on ventilators. The percentage of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 16%. The testing rate is 10.78%.

As of Tuesday, 58.7% of Alaska residents 12 and older were fully vaccinated. The Kenai Peninsula Borough falls below that average, reporting that almost half of its eligible residents — 48.9% — had received their full dose series. In the Homer area, 64.1% are fully vaccinated. In Anchor Point, 43.1% are fully vaccinated and in the other Kenai Peninsula South area only 20.3% are fully vaccinated.

According to the DHSS weekly COVID-19 report for Sept. 26-Oct. 12, unvaccinated patients account for 75% of all positive test cases, 87% of all hospitalizations and 83% of all deaths for Alaska residents age 12 and older for the period of Jan. 16-Oct. 2. Unvaccinated patients were nine times more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated patients.

South Peninsula Hospital has done 730 COVID-19 tests with 661 positive for the week of Oct. 6-12 , hospital Public Information Officer and Director of Marketing Derotha Ferraro wrote in an email on Wednesday. That’s a 9% positivity rate. In the same time period there were six COVID-19 related visits to the emergency department. The hospital did 27 outpatient monoclonal antibody infusions and administered 77 new vaccinations. In the same time period, two new COVID-19 patients were admitted. As of Wednesday morning, two COVID-19 patients were hospitalized.

The hospital welcomed 11 temporary relief workers from the Federal Emergency Management Authority group that arrived in Alaska earlier this month. That includes seven certified nursing assistants and four nurses in both the hospital and Long Term Care.

At South Peninsula Hospital, because of the level of community spread of COVID-19, visitors are not allowed except for those with appointments. Long Term Care is open to approved visitors by appointment. One designated visitor per patient per stay is permitted for pediatric patients, obstetric patients, surgery patients and end of life care.

Testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

Testing is 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the SPH COVID-19 clinic on Bartlett Street for people with symptoms, traveling, for pre-procedure screening and for exposure six days after exposure of after being at social gatherings.

SVT Health & Wellness offers testing to anyone at its three SVT Health & Wellness locations: 880 East End Road, Homer (226-2228); 72351 Milo Fritz Ave., Anchor Point (226-2238), and 206 Main Street, Seldovia (907-435-3262).

Where to get vaccinated

South Peninsula Hospital continues to offer walk-in vaccines daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 4201 Bartlett Street, and by appointment at www.sphosp.org.

Vaccines also are offered by appointment at Homer Medical Clinic and the SPH Family Care Clinic. For more information at the Bartlett Street clinic, talk to your doctor or call 235-0235 for additional information.

To make appointments at Homer Medical Center, call 235-8586

To make appointments at the South Peninsula Family Care Clinic, call 235-0900. The Moderna, Pfizer and Janssen vaccines are offered.

People who are immunocompromised can now get a third dose by either a provider’s referral or by submitting an attestation form. People qualify for the third dose if they are receiving active cancer treatment, if they received an organ transplant and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have received a stem cell transplant within the last two years and take medicine to suppress the immune system, if they have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency, if they have an advanced or untreated HIV condition, or if they take high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress the immune response.

The FDA has approved by Emergency Use Authorization the Pfizer COVID-19 booster for specific groups. South Peninsula Hospital is currently offering COVID-19 booster shots of Pfizer brand to individuals who were fully vaccinated with Pfizer at least six months earlier and fall into one of the following categories: People 65 years or older, residents in long term care settings, people 50-64 years of age with underlying medical conditions. Additional groups may receive the booster based on individual benefits and risks. Check www.sphosp.org for complete details, call your healthcare provider or call 235-0235. A mass Pfizer booster vaccine event will take place 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15 at Homer High School. Flu shots will be offered at the same time of visit. Appointments are encouraged; go to www.sphosp.org.

SPH will also offer free flu shots at a community flu shot event on Friday, Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. No appointment needed.

Safeway – Homer, 90 Sterling Highway, offers clinics 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday by appointment or walk-ins. Call 226-1060 for appointments. The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are offered.

Kachemak Medical Group, 4129 Bartlett Street, offers vaccines by appointment. Call 235-7000.

Ulmer’s Pharmacy, 3858 Lake Street, offers Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines by appointment of walk-ins. Call 235-7760.

Ninilchik Clinic, 15765 Kingsley Road, Ninilchik offers Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines by appointment and Pfizer on demand. Call 907-567-3970.

SVT Health & Wellness offers Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen and Moderna vaccines for established medical patients of the three SVT Health & Wellness locations: 880 East End Road, Homer (226-2228); 72351 Milo Fritz Ave., Anchor Point (226-2238), and 206 Main Street, Seldovia (907-435-3262).

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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