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Alaska DHSS announces next tier of Alaskans eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 4:22 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced the next group of Alaskans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

A DHSS press release states that on Feb. 11, the State of Alaska Vaccine Task Force will open state-allocated COVID-19 vaccine appointments to the next tier of Alaskans. This group will be allowed to begin making appointments to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when more becomes available.

According to the press release, this new group includes Alaskans who are age 50 and above who have a high-risk medical condition or work in an essential job around others, plus many education workers regardless of age, some COVID-19 response workers, and anyone who lives or works in certain congregate settings.

Governor Mike Dunleavy, in a press release said, “Our Elders are our most vulnerable population, and it was important to allow them time to get vaccinated these past few weeks. Many of the seniors who wanted to get vaccinated have done so, and now it’s time to open up vaccinations to a new group of Alaskans.”

Starting Feb. 11, people eligible for state-supplied vaccine, Phase 1b, Tier 2 will be limited to these groups:

• People age 50 years and above who have any of the following high-risk medical conditions: cancer; chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); Down syndrome; heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies; immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant; obesity; severe obesity; sickle cell disease; smoking; Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes mellitus; and pregnancy. For more information, visit this CDC webpage.

• Education staff, regardless of age, limited to pre-K-12 educators and support staff (e.g. custodial, food service, transportation); child care workers and support staff; and indigenous language and culture bearers.

• Limited pandemic response staff who may come into contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus during outbreak response activities.

• Frontline essential workers 50 years and above who work within six feet of others. This includes law enforcement, public safety, first responders, food and agriculture workers, transportation and logistics workers, water, wastewater and utility workers and more. For a complete list, please visit the vaccine eligibility webpage and also refer to federal guidance provided by Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

• People living or working in other congregate settings not covered in Phase 1a, limited to:

o Acute psychiatric facilities;

o Correctional settings;

o Group homes for individuals with disabilities or mental and behavioral health conditions;

o Homeless and domestic violence shelters;

o Substance misuse and treatment residential facilities; and

o Transitional living homes.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink said, “Given some additional vaccine that will be coming soon into the state, the remaining February allocation and an estimation of March’s vaccine allocation, we have decided to move forward with this large tier. While we know this next group is large, and there will be more demand than supply at first, this gives communities more flexibility to move quickly. The demand will be met over time as more vaccine becomes available.”

Alaskans are asked to check their eligibility by taking the eligibility test or reading the eligibility details list on the DHSS website before scheduling appointments to receive the vaccine. Those who need assistance can call 907-646-3322. The helpline is staffed from 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

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