DHSS collecting feedback for next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Department of Health and Social Services is looking for feedback from Alaskans on who should be included in the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations.
The state is currently finishing up tiers one and two of phase 1-a of the distribution, with tier 3 soon to start. After that, the plans are still being finalized.
“We are working on what looks like phase 1-b right now, and this is where we’re looking for public comment,” said Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink at an online meeting Monday.
Zink said there is some CDC guidance on who should be included in phase 1-b, and that, along with public feedback, would be taken into consideration before DHSS releases its own recommendations to the state.
“What [the CDC] recommended was phase 1-b should be people over 75 years of age, as well as frontline essential workers,” Zink said.
At Monday’s meeting, advocates for different groups and individuals made their cases. By far, the most represented were those advocating for the seafood industry.
“While we’re trying to adhere to all the rules and guidelines for distancing, and have changed the way we operate in fundamental ways, there is no escaping that we all both live and work in tight quarters,” said Alan Davis, who spoke in favor of vaccinating seafood workers.
Close behind the seafood industry was those who favored vaccinations for educators. Some cited the need to help districts like Anchorage’s to return to in-person learning, while others also highlighted the need to protect educators who are already teaching in-person.
“We’ve done a lot of work in the district to prepare our schools to receive staff and students, but nothing can supplant what would be increased immunity and reduced susceptibility to the virus,” said Anchorage School District Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth.
The energy industry, veterinarians, child care workers and many other groups also advocated for inclusion in phase 1-b. Others supported a fully age-based distribution.
“This committee should vaccinate our oldest Alaskans first and go year by year until everyone who wants it is vaccinated,” said Cynthia Pick Christiansen, speaking as an individual.
All of that feedback will be turned around into recommendations expected to be released by Wednesday, and for those who didn’t get a chance to participate in Monday’s meeting, DHSS is still collecting written input here.
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