Alaska News

Southcentral Foundation opens vaccination appointments to Alaskans 40 and older

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Southcentral Foundation announced Monday it has begun offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments at its Anchorage vaccine clinic to Alaskans 40 and older, as well as child care workers and K-12 educators.

In an email to foundation staff Monday morning, April Kyle, the foundation’s president and CEO, said the decision to expand eligibility was based on a “careful review” of its March vaccine supply.

Now-eligible Alaskans can visit vax.nuka.com to sign up for a spot. Kyle’s email said appointments would be limited to ensure vaccine remains available to “customer-owners,” the foundation’s tribal beneficiaries.

“It is exciting to be part of Alaska’s vaccine success by offering more vaccine to the community while ensuring that all customer-owners and their household members remain eligible for the vaccine,” Kyle said.

The amount of appointments Southcentral Foundation will provide daily will likely fluctuate based on demand, and slots will continue to be reserved for customer-owners and their household members, said Dr. Bob Onders, administrator at the Alaska Native Medical Center, during a call with reporters on Monday.

“They’re up to about a thousand appointments a day that will be delivered,” he said. “Some days there might be more, and it will be variable day-to-day,” he said.

The organization reports it has already vaccinated at least 19,000 people so far.

By Monday afternoon, reports on social media indicated some Alaskans were having trouble signing up for an appointment through SCF’s online portal. In an updated Facebook post, SCF said its servers were “temporarily overloaded,” and that the organization was working on resolving the issue.

The announcement comes on the heels of news from the state that it would be receiving over 70% more doses of COVID-19 vaccine in March than it did in February. Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said last week that the increase in anticipated vaccine doses is due to ramped-up vaccine production.

The 103,120 first doses of vaccine that will arrive in Alaska in March include 36,290 doses allocated through the Indian Health Service for Alaska’s 229 sovereign tribes and 66,830 doses allocated to the entire state by the federal government.

According to the state’s overall vaccine eligibility guidelines, those currently eligible to receive the vaccine in Alaska include: most health care workers with direct patient contact, seniors, those who help seniors get a shot, educators and their support staff, Alaskans 50 and older with a high-risk medical condition, frontline essential workers 50 and older who work in close proximity to others, and people who live or work in congregate settings.

However, Southcentral Foundation is an Alaska Native-owned health care organization, which means it receives its allotment from the Indian Health Service and can decide vaccine eligibility separate from the state’s tiers.

Alaska has so far vaccinated more residents per capita than any other state, largely because of its robust tribal health system that has been able to vaccinate large swaths of the population quickly and efficiently.

In many small communities — including Sitka and most villages — any interested Alaskan older than 16 has been able to get a shot.

SCF “has already offered vaccines to groups including teachers, Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Police Officers, McLaughlin Youth Center employees, people who are incarcerated and people experiencing homelessness,” the organization said in its announcement.

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