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Standing in support of the Covid-19 vaccination

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Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine

A pharmacist handles vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

As the largest providers of health care in Interior Alaska, Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) and Foundation Health Partners (FHP) support vaccination against Covid-19 as the most effective way to protect our communities from the dangerous effects of this disease.

Vaccination reduces an individual’s risk of the sometimes deadly and sometimes longterm consequences of Covid-19 and also reduces a community’s risk of health system failures. We support vaccination as the means to end the pandemic.

Covid-19 is having an impact on our ability to provide critical health care services to our community. As Covid-19 continues to spread at an increasing rate, the negative impact on health care employees and the health care infrastructure also increases. Living in the subarctic, we already face staffing shortages. Additional staffing impacts from the Covid-19 response could mean the difference between someone receiving care in Fairbanks or having to be medevaced out to either Anchorage or Seattle. Patient transfers can delay critical care and contribute to negative outcomes, and they increase the expenses for patients.

In the last two months, infections and hospitalizations in our region have tripled. Most of these hospitalizations are avoidable. It is for this reason that TCC and FHP are joining together to appeal to Fairbanks and Interior Alaska residents to get vaccinated.

Alaska is fortunate to have vaccines that are widely available for residents age 12 and up. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from severe disease, and those who aren’t are at higher risk for hospitalizations or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 99% of hospitalizations and deaths among Covid-19 inpatients are of unvaccinated individuals. Those who are unvaccinated also spread the disease to others at a higher rate than those who are vaccinated.

• You will not get Covid-19 from the vaccine.

• The vaccine does not hurt fertility.

• The vaccines are free.

• If you have had Covid-19 you still need the vaccine to increase your immunity.

• Those who are not able to get the vaccine such as some cancer patients and those younger than age 12 are depending on the community to create herd immunity through high rates of vaccination.

• Young people should get the vaccine because of Covid-19’s longterm impacts and the fact young people are transmitters and are now susceptible to severe symptoms due to variants.

We encourage Alaskans who have not yet been vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and their community.

PJ Simon is chief and chairman of Tanana Chiefs Conference. Jeff Cook is board chairman of Foundation Health Partners and the Greater Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation.

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