The Alaska Airlines Center vaccine site has seen low turnout and slow days recently

Jan Pal waiting in the observation period after getting his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19...
Jan Pal waiting in the observation period after getting his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Alaska Airlines Center walk in clinic. He said he had a shot in his arm within 10 minutes of getting there on Monday.(Taylor Clark)
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:58 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On Monday, the city of Anchorage put out an online alert that there was a walk-in vaccination site at the Alaska Airlines Center. According to the staff, the alert wasn’t put out because it was a pop-up site that just started. It was put out because they have been having shorter lines and more canceled vaccination appointments.

Jyll Green, a nurse practitioner who is in charge of the site, said the site has actually been operational as a vaccination clinic since late January and they’ve already given out 40,000 doses.

While that is a large number, Green said it’s not enough and they were slow. On Monday, they were supposed to give out 325 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines.

“Usually we don’t have a problem giving out 325 vaccines in five hours but today we’ve been struggling to find people to get their vaccine,” Green said.

There are many reasons Green has been considering as possibilities. She said it could be that there are so many more places to get vaccinated now, but it could also be that people are hesitant to get vaccinated at all.

She said the struggle of filling all the vaccination appointments is a new problem at this site. Green said the issue started to become visible sometime last week.

“I think what happens is people schedule an appointment and then a better option comes up,” she said. “It’s a little bit sooner, so they were forgetting to cancel that appointment, and then they were coming in somewhere else and getting their vaccine elsewhere. So we started seeing our no show rates going up, where usually we would see five or ten people out of 900 no show, and then we started seeing hundreds of people not showing for appointments.”

According to some of the people getting vaccinated at the clinic on Monday, it’s not because it’s a challenging or time-consuming process that’s keeping people away.

Jan Pal and Doug Philp of Anchorage both said they showed up without appointments after hearing there were doses available, and both had shots in their arms within 15 minutes of parking at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Green said it’s okay to book an appointment and end up getting vaccinated at a more convenient location. However, to keep appointments open and vaccines are not wasted, she asks that the public call the state to cancel their original appointment. The number for that is (907)-646-3322.

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