In Alaska’s most populated areas, the COVID-19 vaccine is reserved for people over 65, medical professionals and essential workers. But in Southeast Alaska, the regional tribal health provider is offering doses more widely.
The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, or SEARHC, is asking adults to express their interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine with an online form.
SEARHC’s regional director for Prince of Wales Island Jessica Priddy spoke at a virtual luncheon on Wednesday.
“Everyone interested can register online on the website at covid19.searhc.org,” she said. “If you answer those questions appropriately, including your age, your medical conditions, your occupation, that puts you into your appropriate sequencing group, and then we use that system to start contacting people to get them in to schedule.”
It’s not yet clear when the vaccine will be available to everyone, and SEARHC says availability will vary by community.
For example, Haines is now vaccinating anyone who wants the shot. On Prince of Wales Island, people as young as 60 have been vaccinated. Higher-risk patients are placed higher in the queue than those at lower risk.
But Priddy says open season on COVID-19 vaccines likely isn’t far off.
“I would suspect it sooner than later. We have a steady supply of vaccines coming in every week, and we’re running through them as fast as and safely as we can. And so I would assume it would be much sooner than later,” she said. “I would think by the end of spring or by time spring comes, everyone who’s wanted one will have had one.”
So who should register? SEARHC says anyone who lives in the following communities:
- All communities on Prince of Wales Island
In most communities, SEARHC says all adults 18 and up — enrolled tribal members or not — are eligible to sign up. Juneau is the lone exception.
The signup form is available at covid19.searhc.org.
People without internet access can call their local clinic to register. Some local organizations, like the Prince of Wales Island Chamber of Commerce, are also providing assistance to people who can’t get online.