DHSS says Juneau leads state in vaccination rates; more public sites open up
Municipality of Anchorage is in second, according to the department
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - As the state seeks to administer more COVID-19 vaccine to ensure Alaskans get fully vaccinated, more public vaccination sites are opening up across the state.
This week, people have lined up at the old Forever 21 store at Dimond Center. They’ve gone there not to shop, but to help protect their health, as the area is now the site of Anchorage’s newest COVID-19 vaccination center.
“It’s a great location,” said Joe Gerace, the head of vaccine operations for Visit Healthcare, which oversees the vaccination centers around Anchorage.
The Dimond Center location opened Thursday, and offers something the others don’t.
“The Transit Center right outside our door, and the mall is a well known location with lots of parking which has been a challenge at some of our other locations,” Gerace said.
When it comes to the vaccine, 25% of Anchorage’s population is fully vaccinated. The latest numbers from the Department of Health and Social Services also show 34.5% have received their first doses. Only Juneau has higher percentages in both categories.
The Kenai Peninsula, Fairbanks, and the Mat-Su Borough are next in the rankings. Statewide, DHSS says 23% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 32% has at least received their first doses.
Alaskans lined up in droves to get the vaccine when it first became available earlier this year. Over the last few weeks, though, there’s been a drop in people coming in to get vaccinated. There may be a simple reason.
“I think a lot of people are waiting for the single dose Johnson & Johnson (vaccine),” said Gerace.
Meanwhile, the state is working to make the vaccine more accessible.
“I am not ready to say that we have hit that point that people don’t want to get vaccinated,” said Kelsey Pistotnik, of the Alaska Immunization Program. “It has to be convenient; we have to make it easy for folks.”
The Dimond Center vaccination center is open from 10am-8pm seven days a week. Walk-ins are accepted.
Several other mass vaccination sites have also opened in recent weeks. Among them is a new site in Fairbanks. You can find vaccination locations at covidvax.alaska.gov.
Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.