COVID-19 Vaccine in Fairbanks

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital received its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, with the first vaccination administered Thursday. Courtesy Foundation Health Partners

The COVID-19 virus infected 411 new Alaskans on Thursday, 38 of them in Fairbanks, four in North Pole and one somewhere else in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, according to the report from the Department of Health and Social Services.

“For the last month or so, Alaska experienced a decline in cases,” state Epidemiologist Joe McLaughlin said during a Thursday news conference. “However, in the last few days we started to see cases bump up a little bit.”

Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said in her video update that officials “are continuing to see the percent positivity climbing up slowly and it’s just a good reminder that we need to make sure we do everything we can to slow the spread of this virus so we don’t get another spike.”

Among other places with a high number of new cases, Anchorage registered 120, Wasilla 48, Bethel Census Area 34, Palmer 18, Dillingham Census Area 17, Kusilvak Census Area 16, and Northwest Arctic Borough 15.

Juneau is now in the list of the regions where the virus transmission alert level is not as high as everywhere else in the state. The capital region is in the intermediate range, along with the Southern and Northern Southeast regions.

Vaccinations update

Of the 114,800 COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to Alaska, the state has administered 25,058 as of Friday.

Medical and emergency workers, seniors and assisted living facility residents and staff are eligible to get the vaccine now. And on Jan. 11, Alaskans can attend a public hearing to voice their opinions about who should be vaccinated next.

For the seniors who are eligible to receive the vaccine now, the appointments ran out quickly on Wednesday, but officials say new slots are added as soon as they become available and that members of the public should visit covidvax.alaska.gov frequently or call 907-646-3322.

“We recognize there has been a lot of frustration in the past few days,” Zink said Thursday. “This is a big group, and it’s been a challenging week, and it didn’t go as smoothly as we hoped.”

To expand local vaccination efforts, Fairbanks Public Health Nursing, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Chiefs Conference and the Interior Community Health Center are in discussions about setting up a mass point of dispensing clinic, said Heidi Hedberg, the director of the Division of Public Health.

Meanwhile in Anchorage, 1,800 new appointments are becoming available this weekend and on Tuesday in the new vaccination spot at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Alaska VA Healthcare System vaccinated its first veterans on Jan. 4, including five veterans at the Fairbanks Community-based Outpatient Clinic. The system expects to complete vaccinations with all its employees by Jan. 15.

In the Denali Borough, vaccinations are being administered to front-line health care workers and first responders. The Denali Borough has had no reported positive COVID-19 cases since Dec. 23.

As of Thursday, 40 of the 50 allotted doses were given to staff members at Healy’s Interior Community Health Clinic, Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department, McKinley Volunteer Fire Department, Cantwell Volunteer Fire Department, Denali National Park emergency medical service, Anderson Volunteer Fire Department and Clear Air Force Station clinic staff.

Denali Borough residents can now also make appointments at the Healy clinic to schedule vaccinations if they are age 65 or over. Fifty doses are available, and vaccinations begin on Jan. 11. To make an appointment, call 907-455-4567, ext. 2000. All recipients need to plan their second dose in the same location as the first.

Free community testing continues, at the trailer in the parking lot outside the Tri-Valley Community Center in Healy. The center is open Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesdays, 4:30-6:30 p.m. and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Any changes will be posted on the Denali Borough website and Facebook page. 

Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMlocal. Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.