A sign on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, on the Sterling Highway near Soundview Avenue announces the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Homer, Alaska, . (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

In public service announcement, governor urges Alaskans to get vaccinated

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

As Alaska continues to be one of the top-5 states in vaccination efforts and gets closer to herd immunity, Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged Alaskans to get vaccinated.

“Each vaccinated person gets us one step closer to putting the pandemic behind us and getting back to living life freely like we did before COVID-19,” Dunleavy said in a press release last Friday. “… If we keep up this brisk pace of vaccinations, we will soon get to the point where further spread of the disease will become unlikely.”

Dunleavy also put out a video public service announcement where he repeated that message and said he intended to get a vaccine himself. Dunleavy did not say why he has not yet gotten a vaccine. On Feb. 24, he reported that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was getting treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for some treatments that COVID-19 survivors received they delay getting vaccinated, but it does recommend vaccination for COVID-19 patients in consultation with their health care providers.

During a press conference Tuesday in Kenai, Dunleavy said there would be no statewide mandate compelling Alaska residents to bevaccinated.

“We don’t need to mandate vaccines,” he said. “It’s one of those things. A pandemic comes along once every 100 years and there’s really no playbook for it. But Alaskans, I think, have stepped up to the plate tremendously. We wouldn’t have these numbers that we have … if it weren’t for Alaskans … being a voluntary part of this.”

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services data on the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows that as of Tuesday, on the peninsula 16,426 people have received at least one dose and 11,547 have been fully vaccinated, with 27,822 doses fully administered. That’s 27.9% who have received at least one dose and 19.6% who are fully vaccinated.

On the southern Kenai Peninsula, partial data shows that 8,373 out of an estimated 15,000 people or 55% have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of those, 3,565 or 23% are fully vaccinated. About 1,400 people are signed up for second-dose clinics. Those numbers do not include vaccines that have been given at two local clinics still reporting numbers.

Statewide as of Tuesday there have been 243,498 people in Alaska who have received at least one dose and 188,484 people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for a total of 431,982 doses administered in Alaska. That’s 32.9% of Alaskans who have received one dose and 24.7% of Alaskans who are fully vaccinated.

On the Kenai Peninsula, 62.3% of Alaskans age 65 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 56.6% of seniors are fully vaccinated. For all ages 16 and older on the peninsula, 29,618 doses have been administered, with 17,108 receiving at least one dose and 12,800 fully vaccinated.

Alaska continues to be a leading state in terms of its rate of vaccination, according to New York Times reporting. In terms of fully vaccinated residents, Alaska’s rank of almost 25% is behind New Mexico and even with South Dakota and Rhode Island.

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.

For the month of April, South Peninsula Hospital Public Information Officer Derotha Ferraro said the hospital is expecting 2,300 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 100 Janssen doses from Johnson & Johnson.

A mass vaccination clinic for the single-dose Janssen vaccine is scheduled for Saturday, April 17, at Homer High School. Sign up for that clinic starting at noon Friday. Individual appointments for the Pfizer vaccine are available at the Covid Vaccine and Test Clinic on Bartlett street. Several dates are available in April. On Saturday, April 10, there is a second-dose clinic for those who got vaccines on March 12 and on Saturday, April 17, there is a second-dose clinic for those who got vaccines on March 27.

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 has announced its next mass vaccine clinic for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 17. Sign up starts at noon Friday. Call for an individual appointment for Pfizer vaccination at the Covid Vaccine and Test Clinic on Bartlett street. . Several dates are available in April. 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.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com. Peninsula Clarion reporter Camille Botello contributed to this story.

A sign on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, on the Sterling Highway near Soundview Avenue announces the availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Homer, Alaska, . (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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