Free COVID-19 vaccines for Alaska tourists begins June 1

Four airports will offer the vaccines.
Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 4:16 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The State of Alaska will expand its ongoing “Sleeves up for Summer” campaign promoting COVID-19 vaccinations to include any visitor to the state beginning June 1.

“June 1, anyone can get vaccinated,” said Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer during a May 26 science webinar open to the public. “You’re welcome to get fully vaccinated.”

The vaccination campaign had a goal to increase Alaska’s statewide vaccination rate by 25% in the month of May, boosting the statewide number of people who’ve had one or more doses from 48% of eligible Alaskans to 73%.

Raising the number of people in a community with immunity helps reduce a disease’s ability to spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also says how much of a population needs immunity to see “community immunity,” or “herd immunity,” varies by illness and that the precise threshold for community protection from COVID-19 is still being learned about.

More than 43,000 Alaskans have received a dose since the April benchmark date, raising the state’s vaccination rate to 52% of people with an initial dose, according to the State of Alaska’s “Sleeves up for Summer” progress tracker.

Airports in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau will offer free COVID-19 vaccines to Alaska travelers, making available vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer is the only vaccine currently available to youth age 12-15.

More information about traveling to and within Alaska can be found on the state’s Safe Travels website.

Several clinics will be offered throughout the state in the coming months for residents, including one June 1 in Fairbanks at the Carlson Center.

For the state, vaccinations not only help protect the physical health of Alaskans and travelers, but also help revitalize the economic wellbeing of the state, where summer tourism has long been a main economic engine for many communities.

“Anyone can get vaccinated regardless of paperwork in the state of Alaska, regardless of where you’re from,” Zink said. “We just want everyone to be well.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that COVID-19 vaccinations will not be available at the airport in Ketchikan. A DHSS spokesperson said at one point, Ketchikan’s airport was a possibility for vaccine distribution, but due to constraints such as space, ferry access and ambulance response time, providing vaccines in the airport location was not possible.

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