Older Alaskans are next in line for COVID vaccine

State health officials have cleared the way for Alaskans ages 65 and up to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which has infected millions of people and killed over 1.4 million worldwide.

The Alaska COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force was to begin scheduling appointments Wednesday, Jan. 6, for vaccination clinics for Phase 1b, Tier 1 of the state vaccination program set to begin on Monday, Jan. 11.

Initially statewide vaccinations for older Alaskans were to begin in late January, but after assessing how much vaccine remains to be administered, the Vaccine Task Force adjusted the timeline forward.

“All clinics who have received COVID-19 vaccine should continue to vaccinate the remaining health care workers from Phase 1a who wish to be vaccinated, but we are also excited to open up appointments for Alaskans who are 65 years of age or older,” said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.

As of Jan. 4, 12,478 doses the Pfizer vaccine and 793 doses of the Moderna vaccine had been given to physicians, nurses, licensed practical nurses, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, and others.

Appointments must be made at dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx, with individuals choosing a vaccination date on or after Jan. 11.

DHSS officials said the computer system being used is designed to handle the anticipated requests for appointments from thousands of Alaska seniors without any issues.

DHSS is anticipating delivery of another 52,900 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in January.

The supply is to include 27,300 doses of Pfizer vaccine, with 7,800 doses allocated to the Indian Health Service, plus 25,600 doses of Moderna vaccine, of which 8,400 does are allocated to IHS.

Meanwhile vaccine continues to be distributed across the state through a phased allocation plan

Zink said she is thankful that so many Alaskans are excited about the vaccine and engaged in the public comment process.

“We wish we had enough vaccine for all who want it right now, but until we do, we’re balancing the science, logistics and ethics to get the supplies we do have out as quickly as possible,” she said.

More information about the vaccine and Alaska’s distribution plans are at dhss.alaska.gov/dph/epi/id/pages/COVID-19/vaccine.aspx.