News-Miner opinion: The bad news is that the number of Covid-19 cases is trending upward across the state. The really bad news is that the Fairbanks North Star Borough has the second-worst vaccination rate in Alaska, beating out only the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
The worst news? A new, more transmissible coronavirus variant — South African variant B.1.351 — has been detected in Anchorage and the Mat-Su, state health officials say. It spreads 50% easier.
It is beyond time to get vaccinated.
The Department of Health and Social Services says while about 33% of Alaska’s adults are fully vaccinated, the Fairbanks-area’s rate is 25.6%. The dead-last Matanuska-Susitna region? About 20%. The Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage have rates slightly better than Fairbanks. The northern Southeast region’s rate is about 56%, the highest in Alaska.
In Fairbanks, where 6.803 Covid-19 cases have been reported, along with 32 deaths, the state has distributed about 25,000 vaccines, and 18,000 recipients have received both doses.
While the initial rollout of the vaccine program was a little confused, it has gotten better. It needs to get even better — as quickly as possible.
It is time to think outside the box. Health officials want to set up pop-up, walk-in, drive-through vaccination centers as quickly as possible to accommodate even more of those needing the shots. Increased efforts to reach out to rural areas such as Salcha, North Pole, Fox and Ester with pop-up sites would help boost the rate. Whatever can be done, should be done to make it easier to be vaccinated.
While some of your friends, family or neighbors may balk at the notion of getting the vaccinations for whatever reason, we would urge you to go ahead and protect yourself and others by getting the shots, and soon. Polio would not have been wiped out if everyone had not done their part.
You can register for the vaccinations at covidvax.alaska.gov or you call 907-646-3322.
We would hate to lose even one of you.