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)

State opens next vaccination tier

More than 23% of peninsula residents have gotten first vaccine dose

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has opened the next tier of people eligible to get a vaccine for COVID-19.

In a Wednesday press release, the state announced that everyone aged 55 and older is now able to get vaccinated, as part of Phase 1c. Also included in this phase is anyone age 16 and older who is an essential worker, has a high risk medical condition, lives in a multigenerational household or lives in “unserved communities.”

This next phase represents a change from the state’s previous rollout plan. Originally, the next step in the rollout was going to be Phase 1b, Tier 3, but the state opted to delete that group and include those people in Phase 1c, according to the press release.

Read the definition of an essential worker here. The definition of medical conditions has also been expanded to include conditions that place a person at “high risk” or “might be high risk” for severe illness from COVID-19. It also includes anyone whose condition is considered high risk by their medical provider.

According to DHSS, a multigenerational household is one that includes three or more generations, or “skipped” generations. For example, a household with a skipped generation would be a grandchild living with a grandparent.

“Unserved communities” are those in which many homes lack water and sewer systems, according to the release. This definition is derived from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

The state is expecting 103,120 Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses for the month of March, as well as an allocation of 8,900 doses of the recently authorized single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

To read the state’s full eligibility criteria and check to see if you’re eligible, dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/VaccineAvailability.aspx. To find a vaccine provider near you and sign up for an appointment, dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/Vaccineappointments.aspx.

If you need assistance, call 907-646-3322.

Vaccines at a glance

More than 20% of Kenai Peninsula residents aged 16 and older have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to state data.

On the peninsula, 11,140 people have gotten at least one shot of a vaccine for the virus, or 23.6%. That’s higher than the more than 21% of people who have gotten at least one dose statewide, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ vaccine monitoring dashboard.

About 21.5% of the entire Alaska population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, while 14.3% have been fully vaccinated.

On the peninsula, 6,590 people aged 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, or 13.9%. A total of 17,700 doses have been administered on the peninsula.

Alaska has a total vaccine allocation of 288,000. That number represents the number of people who can be fully vaccinated, not the number of individual doses. Of that total allocation, 277,520 is what the state and Indian Health Services get, while 10,480 is from the Federal Retail Pharmacy and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

So far, the state has administered 157,000 of its allocation, according to the vaccine dashboard.

Locally, the next mass vaccine clinic is being held on March 12 at Homer High School by the City of Homer’s Unified Command Team, with oversight by South Peninsula Hospital. Appointments for that clinic opened on March 1.

Vaccine doses are also being offered on March 9, 10 and 11 at the hospital’s vaccine and testing center on Bartlett Street.

The high school is also hosting a vaccine clinic this Friday, purely to provide second doses to those who got their first shots at a February clinic at Christian Community Church.

Last week, the state expanded the definition of who is eligible for the vaccine in the current open tiers. Those are Phase 1a through Phase 1b, Tier 2. DHSS clarified that workers in the health care setting include people who stay home and provide care for a medically fragile person, and expanded the definition of people working in congregate settings to include workers beyond the judicial system.

The state is also including “senior helpers,” or people who help senior citizens get to their vaccine appointments. A senior helper can get their vaccine shot at the same time that they bring someone age 65 or older to get a vaccine, even if the helper does not meet any other eligibility criteria.

To double check your eligibility, 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. Check provider websites frequently as appointments may open up due to cancellations or new allocations.

Where can you get the vaccine?

South Peninsula Hospital will hold its next open mass vaccine clinic in conjunction with the city’s Unified Command team on Friday, March 12 at Homer High School. The hospital is offering more than 500 doses at the clinic, and more than 200 separate appointments are being offered at its vaccine and testing center on Bartlett Street.

The ability to sign up for both these opportunities opened on March 1, and you can sign up for the clinic or the appointments at the hospital’s website, www.sphosp.org. Those without internet or who need assistance can call 907-435-3188.

The additional appointments at the vaccine and testing center are set for March 9, 10 and 11.

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.

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 any person in the eligible tiers 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 offering the vaccine to its patients and to Ninilchik residents. As a tribally operated health care provider, the clinic gets part of its vaccine allocation from the state and part from the Indian Health Service. Ninilchik community members who are in the eligible tiers can call 907-567-3970 to sign up for the vaccine, and the clinic will notify them when it is available.

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 confirm that you’re eligible and sign up for a vaccine through the Safeway Pharmacy, visit www.safeway.com/pharmacy/covid-19.html.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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)

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