Vax rate may be lower than reported

Bailer: Public should stop reading online ‘voodoo stories’ and get vaccinated

Registered nurse Heather Whorton draws up a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine. (Jan. 20, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

In May, Cordova Community Medical Center officials announced that well over 50% of all Cordova residents had been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. However, some more recent figures put area vaccination rates below 50%.

Attempts to calculate Cordova’s vaccination rate have been complicated by the fact that some people who were vaccinated in Cordova are not year-round residents. Additionally, most publicly available vaccination figures apply to areas including both Cordova and other communities. In a statement to Cordova City Council read at the council’s Aug. 4 meeting, CCMC Medical Director Dr. Hannah Sanders said that an estimated 42-48% of individuals in the 99574 ZIP code were fully vaccinated. The 99574 ZIP code includes Cordova along with the smaller communities of Chenega, Alaganik and Meakerville. In an Aug. 5 Facebook post, Heather Brannon, emergency management coordinator for the city, said that an estimated 48% of Cordova’s population was vaccinated. According to statistics from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, 50% of people in the Valdez-Cordova Census area have been fully vaccinated, and 53% have received at least one dose.

It remains unclear whether recent, lower vaccination rate estimates represent a revision of the over-50% rate announced in May. The city stopped publishing local vaccination numbers to its online dashboard July 20, a decision officials said was motivated by concern that those numbers could be misleading because it is difficult to determine how many patients are year-round residents of Cordova.

At the city council’s Aug. 4 meeting, Councilman Tom Bailer said he was disappointed by the community’s low vaccination rate, which he described as under 50%.

“I can draw a lot of parallels between this COVID and smoking cigarettes or using tobacco: we know smoking cigarettes and using tobacco is a huge health risk,” Bailer said. “We know that secondhand smoke is dangerous to the innocent people… That’s why they’ve regulated it. We know that, if you walk around without a shot, and if you get COVID, you can pass it on to other innocent people and keep the spread going. It just boggles my mind. People need to stop reading the voodoo stories on the internet. Talk to some real doctors and get the dang shot and quit putting the rest of the people in the community at risk.”

Vaccinations can be scheduled by calling Ilanka Community Health Center at 907-424-3622. Virus testing at CCMC is scheduled for 9-10 a.m every Tuesday in August.