The Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 shortly after it arrived at the South Peninsula Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

The Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 shortly after it arrived at the South Peninsula Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

More than a quarter of peninsula residents have gotten at least 1 vaccine dose

South Peninsula Hospital expects more than 2,000 doses in April

More than a quarter of Kenai Peninsula residents have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

DHSS data on the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that, as of Tuesday, 15,573 peninsula residents, or 26% of the total peninsula population, had gotten at least one dose of a vaccine. Additionally, 10,655 people, or 18%, had been fully vaccinated.

Just over 26,000 total doses have been administered on the peninsula, according to state data.

Statewide, nearly 30% of people have gotten at least one vaccine shot, while 20% have been fully vaccinated, according to the data hub. More than 389,600 doses have been administered across the state.

Alaska continues to be a leading state in terms of its rate of vaccination, according to New York Times reporting, which shows the only state with a higher rate of vaccination is New Mexico.

When it comes to variant strains of COVID-19, Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll told the Homer City Council during their Monday meeting that the vaccines currently available appear to be providing sufficient protection.

“It’s looking good,” he said. “Likely very good protection against variant B117 and other circulating variants.”

He also reminded people of new recently updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations when it comes to fully vaccinated people. Those who are fully vaccinated can now socialize with other fully vaccinated people indoors with no social distancing or masking.

Fully vaccinated means people have waited two full weeks following their final dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, or two full weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“So, you’ve been waiting to have dinner with folks, been waiting to have beers with friends; if they’re fully vaccinated you can go for it,” Carroll said.

Additionally, fully vaccinated people no longer need to quarantine if they get exposed to a case of COVID-19, as long as they remain asymptomatic. To read the full CDC guidelines, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated.html.

South Peninsula Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro spoke to the city council about the Homer Unified Command team’s most recent mass vaccine clinic, held in the west wing of Homer High School.

“We actually set up in the green room, and used the choir room and the stage, and used the … west side of the high school to do that clinic,” she said. “And it went very well, and we really appreciate the school district for allowing that to happen and the city for being so flexible in all of the accommodations to make that possible.”

The hospital itself, through the Unified Command, has helped more than 2,000 people in the Homer area get fully vaccinated, and more than 1,000 to get their first dose.

“We’re getting there slowly but surely,” Ferraro said.

Any doses not used at this Saturday’s upcoming mass clinic to administer more than 500 Pfizer vaccines will become available next week at the hospital’s testing and vaccine site on Bartlett Street, by appointment.

For the month of April, Ferraro said the hospital is expecting 2,300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 Janssen doses from Johnson & Johnson.

Ferraro said administering the April allocation will likely be three-pronged. One of those prongs is another mass vaccination clinic, and another is continuing to offer vaccines by appointment at the Bartlett Street vaccine site. A third part of the April rollout will likely be to start offering pop-up events, Ferraro said.

“Where we’re going out into specific communities, whether it’s the (Homer) Harbor or the food pantry or the college parking lot or wherever,” she said. “… Just kind of creating these pop-ups that are outreach to reach folks that maybe these other options aren’t working for.”

Alaska was the first state to open up COVID-19 vaccines to all residents age 16 and older. The Pfizer vaccine is authorized for people age 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine and the Janssen vaccine from Johnson & Johnson are able to be used on people 18 and older.

To see all the state’s options for health care providers offering the vaccine, or to find a specific provider, visit the state’s website at dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/Vaccineappointments.aspx.

Where can you get the vaccine locally?

South Peninsula Hospital will hold its next open mass vaccine clinic in conjunction with the city’s Unified Command team on Saturday, March 27. The hospital also has 40 doses available by appointment and its testing and vaccination site for this Thursday. You can sign up at the hospital’s website, www.sphosp.org. Those without internet or who need assistance can call 907-435-3188.

Vaccines are not yet available through the hospital’s Homer Medical Center or South Peninsula Family Care Clinic. Anyone who has had their first dose of the vaccine does not need to call to schedule a second one. Their follow up dose was scheduled the day they got their first one.

The Safeway Pharmacy is offering vaccine appointments as doses are available. The store chain has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services to provide vaccines to customers. To sign up for a vaccine through the Safeway Pharmacy, visit www.safeway.com/pharmacy/covid-19.html.

SVT Health & Wellness continues to offer vaccines to its patients as it receives allocations from the state. Patients can call 907-226-2228 to be put on a list to receive the vaccine. The health care provider is owned and operated by the Seldovia Village Tribe, but its clinics in Seldovia, Homer and Anchor Point serve the communities at large. The clinics welcome new patients; a medical visit is required to establish care through SVT Health & Wellness.

Kachemak Medical Group is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people in the community, as it receives it allocations from the state. You do not have to be a current patient to receive it. To sign up for the vaccine, call Kachemak Medical Group at 907-235-7000 to be put on their list. As vaccine doses are received, the provider will call people and offer them appointments in the order they signed up. If the provider cannot reach a person on the list, they will go to the next name, but the person will remain on the list for a vaccine.

NTC Community Clinic in Ninilchik is now offering the vaccine to anyone. Those interested can call 907-567-3970 to be put on the list to receive the vaccine.

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