Alaska expands eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations News Staff

JUNEAU, Alaska — A state vaccine task force on Wednesday vastly expanded eligibility for people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Alaska, adding those 55 to 64 and people 16 and older who meet certain criteria.

That criteria includes being considered an essential worker, living in a multigenerational household, being at or at possible high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or living in communities lacking in water and sewer systems, the state health department said in a release.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy called expanding eligibility significant in efforts to protect Alaska residents and to help restore the state’s economy.

State health officials previously emphasized vaccinating those 65 and older. Individuals who have previously been eligible remain so.

More than 100,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected for the state and Indian Health Service allocations this month, the department said.

Also, 8,900 doses of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine are expected to arrive within the next two weeks, the department said.

The number of vaccines do not include military allocations or those for programs involving pharmacies and federally qualified health centres.

The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said the vaccine supply is not yet sufficient to make it widely available to everyone who wants it.

She said it is being offered to groups “who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, who are at risk for severe illness or death or who work in essential jobs.”

She added: “Some Alaskans may be more vulnerable to this disease than others due to their unique health or life circumstances. Offering vaccine is one step we can take now to help address these inequities.”

The Associated Press

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