A registered nurse prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at the pop-up clinic on the Spit on May 27. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)

State recalculates lower peninsula vaccination rate

Even with new adjustment, Homer area has almost a 61% single-dose vaccination rate.

A change in how the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services calculates COVID-19 vaccination rates has resulted in lower numbers for the Homer area. The number of people who have received at least one dose for an area that now includes the city of Homer, Diamond Ridge and Fritz Creek — a population of 9,114 — is 5,545 or 60.8%. For those fully vaccinated, the number is 5,189 or 56.9%.

Even with the new calculation, the Homer area has the highest vaccination rate for the Kenai Peninsula. Statewide, Ketchikan leads with a fully vaccinated rate of 82%.

DHSS also changed how it calculates the vaccination rate for Kodiak. Previously, Kodiak had a more than 100% vaccination rate. DHSS announced the change in the June 28 COVID-19 summary.

The change came about because DHSS said rates for Homer and Kodiak had been inflated. People from surrounding communities have been included in those areas instead of where they physically reside, DHSS wrote in the summary. Many people report their mailing addresses rather than their residency addresses.

“To address this issue, we are aggregating surrounding areas that share postal service locations or zip codes to better reflect an appropriate population size,” DHSS wrote in Monday’s summary.

For Homer, that means the community identified as “Homer area” now includes not just the city of Homer and Diamond Ridge Census Designated Places, but the Fritz Creek CDP. That dropped the single-dose percentage from 79% to about 61%.

DHSS also made a similar change for Kodiak, creating a new category called “Kodiak Road System.” That includes Kodiak city with CDPs for Chiniak, Kodiak Station, Mill Bay and Women’s Bay. Previously, Kodiak had a 116% vaccination rate. It now has a rate of 55%.

Until late in June, DHSS reported vaccination rates by borough or larger region. The new table, found in the Summary Tables section of the COVID-19 dashboard, includes information by community.

The method for calculating vaccination rates elsewhere on the Kenai Peninsula has not changed. As of Wednesday, June 30, in the Anchor Point Census Designated Place, 39.47% have received one dose and 36.9% have received two doses. In the Kenai and Nikiski area, 39.1% have received one dose and 36.3% have received two doses. In the Seward area, 47% have received one dose and 44.2% have received two doses. In the Sterling CDP, 18.8% have received one dose and 17.6% have received two doses, the lowest on the peninsula. The information does not include Census Designated Places of less than 1,000 people.

For statewide and borough vaccination rates, as of Tuesday, 304,641 Alaskans age 12 and older are fully vaccinated, with 334,755 having received at least one dose.

As percentages, 50% of Alaskans age 12 and older were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 55% had received at least one dose, according to information from DHSS.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough dropped to second-lowest in percentages of those fully vaccinated, with 43% compared to Juneau at 71%. In the borough, 46% or 22,704 have received at least one dose. Only the Matanuska-Susitna region has a lower fully-vaccinated rate at 34%.

Where to get vaccinated

South Peninsula Hospital continues to offer walk-in vaccines daily from noon-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. Free COVID-19 testing is offered at the Bartlett Street site daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, talk to your doctor or call 235-0235 for additional information.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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