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Health Watch: Alaskan physicians address community frustrations regarding vaccine roll-out

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 4:21 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Interior Vaccine Roundtable hosted by physicians across Alaska streamed live on Tuesday January 12, in which they addressed community questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

The discussion covered several topics including when Alaska will receive more vaccines. Appointments for vaccinations as of now are completely booked up and residents wanted to know when they would be able to schedule appointments.

“As of right now, our next set of vaccines that’s coming in-state is February. If something happens on a federal level, and there is more vaccine coming in-state before February, we stand ready and excited to get it out as quickly as possible. But at this point we have not heard of any clear indication that we would get more vaccines before February, and essentially every dose of vaccine for January has a place and home that it’s planning to go to,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Chief Medical Officer for the State of Alaska.

Another question brought up was in regard to those concerned about whether or not they would be able to receive the second dose of the vaccine due to limited supply.

“Right now what is happening is the federal government is holding back the second dose, and then we send it out to the clinic when that second dose happens. We ask you to schedule your second dose at the time of your first dose to be able to move forward. We did hear a bunch of announcements today. We are hearing more availability in the production line and more confidence in the production line for being able to have it with some degree of reserves instead of them holding every one in reserve. So at this time, yes a second dose is guaranteed,” commented Zink.

Concerns were also raised for teachers being able to get vaccines with schools reopening.

“Teachers are in tier two which is the next phase up, so part of it just depends on how much vaccine we get in and how long it takes us to get through the 65 and older. It does separate teachers based on their age. If you are a teacher over 65, you’re welcome to get vaccinated now. But then it continues to work through that process as quickly as possible,” said Zink.

According to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services website, the projected next tier for teachers and other essential workers may be age 50 and up, but that is subject to change.

The entire roundtable event can be viewed on the Alaska Echo Facebook page.

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