First shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Alaska

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 1:58 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska has received its first shipment of the second COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the Moderna vaccine for emergency use on Friday, making the U.S. the first country to authorize the vaccine.

Alaska is expected to receive around 26,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine, along with 35,100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine that arrived last week.

“We want to offer this vaccine to Alaskans as quickly as possible,” Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said in a prepared statement. “This is a major step in that direction. We’re extremely grateful for the hard work that has gone into developing this vaccine and ensuring its safety. Our role is to continue to distribute vaccine according to federal and state allocation plans to Alaskans who want it.”

The first shipments of both vaccines should be enough to vaccinate 61,900 people, the Department of Health and Social Services said in a release. Both vaccines have two doses. The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be taken three weeks after the first one, and the second dose of the Moderna vaccine should be taken four weeks after the first one, DHSS said in a statement.

Alaska began vaccinating people in the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout last week. As of Sunday, DHSS said 5,674 people have already been vaccinated in the state. The first doses of the vaccine have been slated to go to frontline health care professionals work directly with COVID-19 and long term care facility and staff.

DHSS said it is now vaccinating frontline emergency medical services workers, health aides and people who administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

The department says it hopes to start vaccinating more groups that are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 at a health care setting by Jan. 4. People who have direct patient contact, contact infectious materials, provide essential in-person health care and licensed or certified laboratory technicians, phlebotomists and people conducting COVID-19 testing would be next in line to receive the vaccine.

Any adverse reactions to the vaccines are reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alaska had the first anaphylactic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday and has since reported a total of 11 allergic reactions to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. In a release sent Monday, DHSS said eight reactions were reported at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, two were reported at Providence Alaska in Anchorage and one was reported at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

“The CDC said there appears to be no obvious geographic clustering of these reactions, nor was a specific production lot involved. People who experience anaphylaxis after the first dose should not receive a second dose, according to CDC recommendations,” DHSS said in a release.

Of the 11 adverse reactions, only two were anaphylactic reactions, and only one resulted in hospitalization. The other cases were not as severe and have all since resolved, DHSS said in a release.

In a Facebook post Saturday, Zink wrote that nationwide there have been six severe reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, two of which were reported in Alaska. As of that time an estimated 272,001 people had been vaccinated.

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