Ketchikan plans to offer mass vaccination clinics starting next week. That’s after Alaska state officials opened vaccinations to all adults who want the shot against COVID-19.
Ketchikan’s emergency operations center announced three clinics to be held in the coming weeks.
Some 1,500 appointments were posted Tuesday. That’s enough to vaccinate more than 10% of the borough’s total population. About a third of the community has received at least one shot so far.
The head of local pandemic response, Abner Hoage, said a donation from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium made the clinic possible. He said it’s something of a turning point in the vaccine distribution effort.
“As of last Thursday, when SEARHC called me — that’s the first time that we really had an allocation that we felt like we were starting to become unconstrained on our vaccine distribution,” Hoage told KRBD.
The regional tribal health care provider also donated 2,100 doses for a mass vaccination event in Juneau.
Hoage said about 200 people signed up for Ketchikan’s mass vaccine clinic Tuesday evening. As of Wednesday afternoon, as many as 1,100 appointments were still available.
The clinic is offering the vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna, which requires a follow up shot four weeks later. Appointments for the second dose will be scheduled during the clinics.
While teenagers as young as 16 are now eligible for the vaccine under state rules, only one vaccine — manufactured by drug giant Pfizer — is authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds. Hoage said local officials are discussing how to make sure Ketchikan teens can access the vaccine.
“We’re going to look at the next round of Pfizer and see if we can’t kind of target more that age group: those 16- and 17-year olds who want to get vaccinated, or who their parents want to get vaccinated and trying to make that available to that age group, because we’re getting plenty of the other vaccines,” Hoage said.
The Moderna shot is authorized for emergency use in people 18 and older. All three currently authorized vaccines — including Moderna’s, Pfizer’s and another from Johnson & Johnson — are extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. But only the Pfizer vaccine was studied in those under 18.
Appointments for Ketchikan’s mass vaccination clinics are open now.
Two are scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 17 at Ketchikan’s Ted Ferry Civic Center. Another is scheduled 10 days later at the Saxman Community Center on Saturday, March 27.
Phone lines are also open for those that want help scheduling their shot. The number to call is 907-646-3322. That phone line is staffed from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
The COVID-19 vaccine is also available at local doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
The website address to visit is AnchorageCOVIDVaccine.org — just enter Ketchikan or Saxman in the search bar.