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Hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available for eligible Alaskans

(CNN)
Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 7:19 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine appointments were open and available through the State of Alaska’s website Monday, a stark contrast to the previous month, when limited appointments filled up rapidly, causing frustration among seniors.

Currently, health care workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities and Alaskans aged 65 and older are eligible to receive vaccines from the state.

During a briefing with reporters Monday, public health officials were asked why fewer Alaskans seemed to be signing up for appointments this month.

“We know we’re gonna see this with different tiers,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer. “When we kind of first opened up that tier, we’re going to get a lot of people who are really interested in that vaccine and are going to sign up very quickly, but then we want to make sure we stay in that tier long enough to get the majority of people who are interested in the vaccine.”

Zink said some seniors have been hesitant after they weren’t able to get an appointment when they tried last month. She encouraged Alaskans to reach out to those who are 65 and older and let them know the state’s call line is now better staffed and that there are appointments available.

“I suspect that when we open up further tiers, it will be similar,” said Zink. “Those who are most anxious will sign up for appointments right away. We try to balance not having our tiers so big that it causes a lot of frustration, but not so small that you are then trying to think about the next tier and moving forward overall.”

With more students returning to in-person learning in Anchorage, officials are regularly taking questions about when teachers will have access to the vaccine.

Currently, only teachers who are 65 or older are eligible to receive a vaccine from the state. Once the state moves into the next tier of its vaccine distribution plan, teachers who are 50 and older will qualify.

“Every day this week we are assessing this,” said Tessa Walker Linderman, co-lead of the Alaska Vaccine Task Force. “And certainly, you know, if we continue to see open appointments, we may assess how we are moving forward, but at this time we really are focused on seniors and getting them to use those appointments.”

According to the state’s website, more than a thousand February appointments were still available in Anchorage as of Monday evening.

Alaskans can make an appointment at covidvax.alaska.gov or call the state’s help line at 907-646-3322.

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