Alaska still deciding when groups will get COVID-19 vaccine

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Health officials in Alaska are still determining who will receive the coronavirus vaccine and when because the number of available doses remains limited.

The Alaska Division of Public Health has administered about 11,800 doses as of Friday in the first phase of vaccination that began this month, the Anchorage Daily News reported Monday.

The state had about 60,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines available for this month, but it's unclear how many vaccines are allotted for January, health officials said.

The initial stage of vaccination included residents and staff at long-term care facilities, hospital-based health care workers, emergency personnel, community health aides and people who are performing vaccinations.

The next tier of people in the first phase are expected to receive vaccines next month and include those who work in health care settings who are at the highest risk of exposure and also considered essential, officials said. They must have direct patient contact and provide essential services or work that cannot be postponed without negatively affecting patients.

Tari O’Connor of the state health department said people in that category can start signing up for the vaccine Wednesday. The shots will be by appointment and be first come, first served.

The state will then continue on to the next phase of vaccinations, but it has not yet decided who will fall into that category, officials said.

A federal advisory committee recommended including people who are over age 74 and essential workers in the next phase, then later adding those 65 and 74 and people younger than 65 with high-risk medical conditions.

An Alaska committee determining how to allocate vaccines gathered public comment Monday, and it is unclear when a decision will be made.

The Associated Press