Plastic chairs and syringes replaced basketballs and squeaky gym shoes Tuesday as a trickle of Alaskans received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Anchorage’s newest pop-up clinic.
The Alaska Club West in the Spenard neighborhood opened the clinic for those in the community, regardless of whether they are a club member.
“We see this as a natural extension to what our mission is in the community,” said Robert Brewster, CEO of The Alaska Club.
Part of the mission, Brewster said, is to improve and maintain people’s health.
Brewster said he felt fitness clubs were targeted during the pandemic with some of the state’s tightest restrictions. He hopes that another vaccination location will be a path toward normalization.
Marquis Hiriams, an employee at The Alaska Club’s Eagle River and Wasilla locations, had been planning to make an appointment to get his first dose of the vaccine when he received an email about the clinic. “I knew I had to do it,” he said of getting vaccinated.
The clinic, open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., was set up to serve 400 patients, said Tom Wilson of Fairweather LLC, which ran the clinic. Due to the vaccine’s short shelf life after it’s removed from a controlled temperature, any extra vials were to go to the Alaska Airline Center vaccine clinic Wednesday, he said.
As lunchtime rolled around, more people filled the gym for their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Anthony Green played “I Spy” with his 4-year-old son, Theo, as Green and his wife, Ayanna, filled out forms online before their appointment.
“Are you gonna be my hero, my coach,” Green asked Theo before he sat down for his shot. Theo smiled through his face mask and showed him his muscles before sitting on his lap.
Minutes later, they cheered on Ayanna Green as she took a breath and closed her eyes for her shot.