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State to receive more than 100K doses of COVID-19 vaccine in March

Vaccine helpers and additional congregate living contacts added to eligibility tiers
COVID-19 vaccine used at Alaska Native Medical Center
COVID-19 vaccine used at Alaska Native Medical Center
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 2:55 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The state of Alaska will be receiving more than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the month of March through federal allocation, including the state’s “bump-up” for the month of February.

Between the state and Indian Health Service allocations, Alaska will be receiving 103,120 doses of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine in development has not yet received emergency use authorization from the FDA, though the FDA released an analysis of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday and its authorization could come soon.

This allocation does not include vaccines that will come to the state through Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, or Federal Pharmacy and Health Clinic partnerships, so more vaccines will be available through those programs.

Alaskans first received limited access to COVID-19 vaccines in mid-December. Since then, 146,778 people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alaska, and 92,630 people are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.

As of Tuesday, 61% of Alaskans over 65 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 virus, according to the state.

The state also clarified Wednesday additional Alaskans who may currently be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and who will be eligible in future tiers. Currently, Alaskans in Phase 1a through Phase 1b, Tier 2 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are some of the state’s clarifications:

Phase 1b, Tier 1: Currently eligible for vaccine

This tier generally consists of Alaskans 65 and older. People who assist someone 65 or older in getting a vaccine are now eligible to be vaccinated at the same time. The senior and the person helping them will need to schedule an appointment at the same location and time. The person assisting does not need to meet other eligibility requirements to receive the vaccine.

Phase 1b, Tier 2: Currently eligible for vaccine

The state has expanded the definition of those who work with people in congregate settings. It was previously restricted to those in the judicial system. Congregate settings now may include people working in any system whose job responsibilities require them to interact with individuals residing in congregate settings, for example, police officers who may not qualify under other tiers.

Phase 1a, Tier 3: Not yet eligible for vaccine

The state has expanded the definition of health care workers. Workers in health care settings as it pertains to eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine now includes people who stay home to provide health care for a medically fragile person. Eligible individuals provide daily support related to a person’s activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing and eating, and instrumental activities of daily living, like shopping, laundry and light housework. This category previously included only those providing care for people 65 and older.

Alaskans may qualify under different criteria for vaccines distributed by the Alaska Tribal Health System, VA or Department of Defense.

As for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while it’s not yet approved, Dr. Liz Ohlsen, with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, said the data shows that this particular vaccine is highly effective against moderate to severe COVID-19 and extremely effective against severe COVID-19. The data showed that the vaccine has a good safety profile, Ohlsen said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not an mRNA vaccine, the type that Moderna and Pfizer are. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, which uses the shell of a different virus, the adenovirus in this case.

If approved, Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said the state would not have to wait until April for that allocation and it could add to the availability of appointments.

The state said some of the March allocation may already be covered by vaccine appointments that providers opened up already in anticipation of the new vaccine allocation.

The state asked providers to add appointments to the state’s scheduling tool on Thursdays so Alaskans have a predictable schedule of when to search for newly opened or added appointments.

For more information on vaccine eligibility in Alaska or to learn how to schedule an appointment, visit the state’s website or contact the vaccine help line at 907-646-3322.

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