Alaska News

ANTHC and Southcentral Foundation to require COVID-19 vaccinations for staff

Two of Alaska’s largest tribal health organizations said this week that COVID-19 vaccinations would soon become mandatory for their employees.

The vaccination policy at Southcentral Foundation, based in Anchorage, is set to go into effect next week, and employees will have 90 days — until Oct. 15 — to comply, according to an email sent to staff Thursday afternoon and signed by foundation president April Kyle.

Rare exceptions would be made for staff with specific medical concerns, the email said.

“The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines is phenomenal,” Kyle said in the email. “As a health care provider for the Alaska Native community, SCF has employee health requirements for all job types. SCF seeks to ensure the highest level of care and safety,” she wrote to staff.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium announced its identical policy on Thursday as well, in an emailed statement that described a fully vaccinated workforce as “a necessary component of providing a safe workplace as we return to normal operations.”

“Achieving and sustaining high vaccination coverage in our communities is proven to help save lives and reduce disease burden, especially for our Alaska Native population and our Elders,” the consortium’s president, Valerie Nurr’araaluk Davidson, said in the statement.

ANTHC employees will also have until Oct. 15 to comply. Together, the two organizations employ over 5,000 people.


There is no federal law specifically that addresses whether employers can mandate that their employees get vaccinated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that’s up to private businesses, or state or local laws.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said recently that employers have the legal right to make such a requirement. In Texas, hospital system workers who filed a lawsuit against their employer over a COVID-19 vaccine requirement are appealing the suit’s dismissal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Southcentral and ANTHC are not the first tribal health corporations in Alaska to mandate vaccines.

In March, the board of the Bering Straits Native Corp. based in Nome announced it was mandating vaccinations for its more than 2,000 employees.

Most regions in Alaska with the highest vaccination rates are in rural areas with a strong tribal health presence.

A spokesperson from Providence Health & Social Services, Alaska’s largest health provider, said in an email that it would not be requiring vaccinations of its staff at this time — though it was “strongly encouraged.”

Earlier coverage:

Balancing workers’ rights with responsibility, Alaska employers weigh whether to require COVID-19 vaccines

Annie Berman

Annie Berman is a reporter covering health care, education and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. She previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in San Francisco before joining ADN in 2020. Contact her at