Alaska will initially receive 8,900 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine following its authorization over the weekend by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use.
With that approval, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine became the third COVID-19 vaccine to become available in the United States. Unlike Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which has an efficacy rate of 66%, only requires one dose.
Both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have efficacy rates of more than 90% and require two doses to be fully effective. Pfizer’s doses must be administered 21 days apart, while Moderna’s doses must be administered 28 days apart.
Alaska continues to lead the country in vaccine rollout. More than one in five — 22.8% — of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to NPR’s COVID-19 vaccine tracker. That is compared to 15% nationally and 21.8% in New Mexico, the state with the second-highest vaccination rate.
In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, 10,873 of the 47,102 — 23.1% — of people who are 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose. 5,973 of the peninsula’s 11,317 seniors — 52.8% — have received at least one dose.
In addition to Alaska’s initial allocation of 8,900 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which will be for the first two weeks, state health officials said during a press conference on Monday that pharmacies who administer COVID-19 vaccines via the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination will receive an additional allocation.
As of Monday, Alaska’s pharmacy partners included WalMart Inc., Albertsons Companies Inc. and Walgreens.
State health officials announced during a press briefing last week that 103,120 pairs of vaccine, or about 206,240 doses, were allocated to Alaska for the month of March 2021. That includes 60,760 doses for the state and 32,720 for Indian Health Service (IHS). Of the 60,760 doses allocated to the state, 32,760 are Pfizer and 28,000 are Moderna. Of the 32,720 allocated to IHS, 18,720 are Pfizer and 14,000 are Moderna. In addition to those allocations, the state is also receiving a supplemental February allocation of 9,640 pairs of vaccine, including 6,070 for the state and 3,570 for IHS.
As of Monday, people eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska included most health care providers, pre-K through 12th grade education staff, people 65 or older, people 50 or older with certain high-risk medical conditions and pandemic response staff, among others. DHSS also announced last week that people who help seniors 65 and older get vaccinated are eligible to be vaccinated as well. Both the senior and the person helping need to schedule an appointment at the same location and time and the person assisting doesn’t need to meet other eligibility requirements to be vaccinated. People interested in receiving their COVID vaccine can determine whether or not they are eligible to receive it at covidvax.alaska.gov.
People who would like assistance with scheduling an appointment to be vaccinated can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.
The City of Kenai is offering transportation to and from vaccine clinics located in Kenai in partnership with CARTS and Alaska Cab. The city council approved $5,000 for the program at their Jan. 20 meeting. Rides will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the budgeted funds run out. In order to participate in the program, people must be going from an address located in Kenai to a clinic in Kenai and will need to provide proof of vaccination.
A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov. Many providers are using the state’s program to schedule appointments, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov. Instructions on how to schedule an appointment with a provider that does not use the state’s scheduling system can be found on the provider map by clicking on the icon of the provider through which people would like to schedule an appointment. Appointments at Walmart can be scheduled at walmart.com/covidvaccine.
Also on Monday, the state reported 73 new COVID-19 cases in Alaska, including five that were reported among nonresidents. Four cases were reported on the Kenai Peninsula on Monday, including two in Homer, one in Kenai and one in Soldotna. To date, 58,681 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Alaska, including 2,342 among nonresidents and 56,339 among residents.
COVID-19 testing locations on the Kenai Peninsula
On the central peninsula, testing is available at Capstone Family Clinic, K-Beach Medical, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, Central Peninsula Urgent Care, Peninsula Community Health Services, Urgent Care of Soldotna, the Kenai Public Health Center and Odyssey Family Practice. Call Kenai Public Health at 907-335-3400 for information on testing criteria for each location.
In Homer, testing is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the lower level of South Peninsula Hospital’s Specialty Clinic as well as through SVT Health & Wellness clinics in Homer, Seldovia and Anchor Point. Call ahead at the hospital at 907-235-0235 and at the SVT clinics at 907-226-2228. Testing is also available at Homer Public Health Center daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In Ninilchik, NTC Community Clinic is providing testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The testing is only for those traveling, symptomatic, needing testing for medical procedures, or with a known exposure after seven days. Only 20 tests will be offered per day. To make an appointment to be tested at the NTC Community Clinic, call 907-567-3970. In Seward, testing is available at Providence Seward, Seward Community Health Center, Glacier Family Medicine and North Star Health Clinic.
Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at email@example.com.