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Alaska airports welcome tourists with free COVID-19 vaccine

A clinic at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport offers COVID-19 shots for tourists.
A clinic at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport offers COVID-19 shots for tourists.(ktuu)
Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 3:54 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Starting Tuesday, several airports across the state began offering travelers the opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccination on site, including at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Tari O’Connor with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said in the first two days, 70 people rolled up their sleeves to be vaccinated at the clinic in the Anchorage airport. She said more than half were international travelers.

The program, which is part of a broader effort to get tourists to return to the state, is twofold, according to O’Connor.

“We are all safer as a community if people among us are vaccinated,” she said. “We do want people to be able to come and enjoy our beautiful state, but also, we want Alaskans to feel safe in having travelers among us.”

But are people coming to Alaska specifically to get vaccinated? Jyll Green, a contractor who directs the airport clinic for the state, believes some travelers are, including a family from India that arrived Wednesday night.

“They were very excited, “she said. “A motivator to come to the state was because they were eligible to get vaccinated here, and it’s just not available in India.”

Green believes some tourists are also staying longer so they can get a second shot. She said she’s talked to tour operators, particularly from Asia, who are planning group tours based on the vaccination schedule.

“They’ve been offering the three-week tour just so they can get in both doses of Pfizer before they leave the state,” Green said. “So, I think that’s going to be great for the economy as well.”

The clinic at the airport in Anchorage offers vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, although Green said the Pfizer vaccine is by far the most popular. It isn’t just for travelers. Anyone are 12 and older can be vaccinated there and walk-ins are welcomed.

Green said Alaskans are taking advantage of the fact that the clinic is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to midnight and that one-hour parking validation is provided.

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