As the number of COVID-19 cases in Alaska begins to rise again, health officials say that vaccinating the state is the best way to reduce transmission-but the rate of vaccination is slowing.
State epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said this week: “This is the crux of the pandemic we are currently in.” “We need to vaccinate people.”
Health experts have listed high vaccination rates as a pandemic ticket, and Alaska has become the first state to provide vaccination for all residents 1
The Alaskans who are most eager to get the vaccine have already received the injection. Now, the new challenge facing state officials is how to deal with a group of people who are busier and sometimes hesitant.
This prompted them to change their strategy.
“I think there are still a large number of Alaskans who can get the vaccine, but it needs to be more convenient,” said Tessa Walker Linderman, co-leader of the Alaska Vaccine Working Group.
In the early stages of vaccinating Alaskans in the state, their absorption was rapid, and the proportion of fully vaccinated populations is on the rise. McLaughlin told reporters on Thursday that this trend has levelled off recently.
McLaughlin said that once the case rate drops below 10 per 100,000 people (which is twice the current rate), the vaccination rate in Alaska will reach about 70% to 80%.
As of Thursday, approximately 29% of Alaskans aged 16 and over had been vaccinated, and 41% had received the first shot.
McLaughlin said McLaughlin’s current focus is to help eliminate misinformation about the new vaccine and provide Alaskans with the information they need to choose a vaccine.
He said: “Vaccine hesitation is one of the main obstacles to our ability to quickly return to normal.”
In Alaska’s most populous city, Anchorage, between the beginning of March and the end of March, COVID-19 cases have steadily increased by about 75%. “This obviously worries me very much,” an epidemiologist at the Anchorage Health Department Dr. Janet Johnston said in an interview. Interview on Wednesday.
Prior to this, after a severe peak in the city last year, the number of cases began to decline and then stabilized. But now, the number of cases has risen again, paralleling the rate of cases before the surge in cases.
Johnston said she hopes that due to the increase in vaccination, the number of cases will not rise as before. However, she said she worries about so many appointments to fulfill every day.
The state’s chief medical officer, Anne Zink, said that among Alaskans between the ages of 20 and 39, the vaccine intake rate is the lowest. She said that the incidence of COVID-19 cases in this age group is also the highest, which makes her worried because this age group may continue to spread the disease.
Given the high vaccination rate among older Alaskans, few people worry that the hospital will be overwhelmed during the surge in cases.
However, Xinke said that people in their 30s and 40s form a long-term hospitalization group. Although they are usually well and can be discharged from the hospital, they may also have to deal with the long-term symptoms of the disease and medical expenses.
State officials said that in order to capture a group of people who are unlikely to go online and make vaccination appointments, they are shifting their strategy from large appointment clinics to opportunities for vaccination in more convenient locations such as grocery stores or doctors’ offices.
Walker Linderman said: “That’s the real group we will play next.” (Alaskans looking for a vaccine clinic nearby can visit covidvax.alaska.gov.)
So far, vaccination rates vary widely across the state. A recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the seven most vaccinated counties in the United States are in rural Alaska. As of this week, Skagway, Yakutat, and Petersburg have been vaccinated. The rate is close to 50%.
But in other areas of the state, such as the Matanuska-Susitna borough, the vaccination rate has been low, while the number of daily cases is increasing.
Walker Linderman said on Wednesday that the state task force is working closely with public health centers in different regions to assess specific problems and identify the root cause of low vaccination rates.
“We are particularly working with Mat-Su; she said: “We did conduct some investigations to try to understand the problem. “
Health officials describe the vaccination effort as fighting the ever-increasing number of cases and the increasingly infectious variants of the virus.
Sinker said that for now, Alaska is still winning the game.
She said: “But the game is not over yet.” “We just went up the mountain.”