Tanana Chiefs Conference coordinates Interior Alaska distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 4:18 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) is working to vaccinate as many eligible members and village residents as possible, and have so far achieved close to 6000 confirmed vaccinations.

TCC Senior Medical Officer Alisa Alexander provided a breakdown of TCC’s process for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. “We’ve worked really hard to get as many vaccines out as we can - both in Fairbanks, but also in all the villages that we serve.”

Dr. Alexander and the Tanana Chiefs Conference are coordinating the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine throughout the Interior Alaska Native community.

“What we’ve been doing is chartering flights out to all of the villages. We try to vaccinate anywhere between 80 to 100 people on one day, and try to capture as many people as we can during that time. We’ll send out subsequent charters to do more doses of the vaccine,” said Dr. Alexander.

The distribution process begins in Fairbanks where TCC has an ultra cold freezer which is required to store vaccine over long periods of time. Dr. Alexander told us, “They’ll pick up their storage containers. Once it’s out of the freezer, it has to be used that day. So that’s a really critical step.”

To make sure no doses are going to waste, TCC’s distribution team carefully tracks how many vials are removed from deep freeze, how many doses are in each vial, and how many patients are waiting on the other side. “We’re really lucky, because we have both a state allocation of vaccine, and an IHS (Indian Health Service) allocation of vaccine. So we’ve been able to quickly open up to more age groups, and reach out to more community members to try and fill those appointments,” said Dr. Alexander.

In Fairbanks, TCC has been able to supply the vaccine to as many as 200 people a day. At that rate, not all the available appointments were filled, and TCC was able to include members in the age range of 16 and up for Pfizer vaccination. Dr. Alexander explained, “We do want to address, ‘How come we have people that aren’t coming in to get vaccinated?’ Because we know that there’s a population of people so far that aren’t coming in., which is why we haven’t been able to fill those appointments.”

According to Dr. Alexander, TCC will focus on educating people about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in order to bring more people in for appointments and improve the safety of local communities.

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