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The basics of the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations and what’s after that

A nurse at CLCHD prepares to give the first Pfizer COVID vaccination in Wyoming Dec. 15.
A nurse at CLCHD prepares to give the first Pfizer COVID vaccination in Wyoming Dec. 15.(Will Thomas)
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 10:05 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For more information, visit the Department of Health and Social Services COVID-19 website at covidvax.alaska.gov. If needed, you may also call (907) 646-3322, or contact your local emergency operations center or public health center for further assistance.

Much confusion has surrounded the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, so we’re putting the main information in one place. Below are some of the basics of what you and your loved ones – particularly those who might qualify for the next round of vaccinations – need to know right now.

Distribution is being broken into both phases and tiers

Each phase and tier includes a particular set of people who have been deemed eligible by the state for the coronavirus vaccine, which requires two doses over a 17- to 21-day period, depending on the type of vaccine distributed to the patient.

Phase 1A, for example, has been open for several weeks. This phase, and its three different tiers, focuses on frontline health care workers. This included long-term care facility staff and residents; hospital-based health care workers, including personnel at the highest risk of exposure; emergency responders, such as medics and firefighters; community health aides and health care workers providing vaccinations; and any health care workers who provide services that cannot be postponed or done remotely.

The upcoming phase is focused on older Alaskans

Four different tiers make up Phase 1B. Tier 1 is the group of people that is up next to be vaccinated, and for which scheduling opens Wednesday. This group includes all Alaskans aged 65 years and older.

The other three tiers include an even broader range of people. Making up Tier 2 are essential workers who are over the age of 50, including but not limited to those individuals who work in industries such as education, grocery stores and public transit.

In Tier 3 are Alaskans with two or more health conditions that are considered high-risk as well as those aged 16 years and older in communities categorized as underserved, for example with little access to clean running water.

The fourth tier opens vaccinations up to front-line workers between 16 and 50 years old, and those aged 50 years and above who have two or more high-risk health conditions.

These four groups will be up for vaccinations as part of Phase 1B, but those who are part of Tier 1 will be first, followed by those in the second, third and fourth tiers.

Scheduling for vaccinations opens before appointments begin

The main State of Alaska site dedicated to vaccination information and scheduling now provides a link for visitors who are part of the upcoming phase of vaccinations to schedule appointments. On Wednesday, Jan. 6, at 12 p.m., scheduling opened for seniors – Alaskans 65 years and older – on this website, which shows a map of locations where the vaccine is being offered. Some providers listed give an option for online scheduling. Others do not, but many of the locations have corresponding email addresses and phone numbers so that people may schedule that way instead.

Keep in mind that while appointments can be made on Wednesday for those who are 65 years of age and older, those individuals should not schedule their vaccinations to take place before Monday, Jan. 11, when distribution to that group begins.

Who will be able to next receive the vaccine hasn’t yet been decided

Once everyone who qualifies for and wants to receive vaccinations as part of Phase 1B has done so, Phase 1C will eventually open. Qualifications for recipients during this stage of vaccinations has not yet been decided, nor has a start date.

With no decision made yet on who will be part of this phase, the state is asking Alaskans who want to share input on who should be vaccinated next to do so by contacting the Alaska Vaccine Allocation Advisory Committee.

The group has held several public meetings already, but you can still submit public comment either through written messages on the committee’s website or via public comment at an upcoming meeting, such as the virtual one taking place on Jan. 11 from 4 to 5 p.m. Attendees who want to comment at that meeting are limited to one minute of testimony each.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the online location for vaccination scheduling.

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