Alaska will get 52,900 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine in January, adding to the 61,900 doses the state has already received.
Pfizer will supply 27,300 of the new doses, and 25,600 will come from Moderna. Of those numbers, 7,800 of the Pfizer vaccine and 8,400 of Moderna will go to Indian Health Services. The rest will go to other health care providers around the state.
As of Dec. 28, the last time data was updated, 13,772 Alaskans had been vaccinated.
State health officials cautioned against comparing previous months’ allocations to each other. The first round of vaccine mostly went to states. But now there are more federal programs — such as IHS, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense — that are using vaccines, said Kelsey Pistotnik, a public health advisor with the Alaska Vaccine Task Force.
“There’s a lot more people in the pot at this point,” she said.
“We have a lot more vaccine coming to states, but it’s going through different channels and not necessarily through the state program.”
Starting today, a whole new group of health care workers will be able to get vaccinated as the state opens the third and final tier of Phase 1a.
Tier 3 is a bit more complicated than Tiers 1 and 2, which covers front-line health care workers and others with known, direct exposure to the virus and residents in long-term care facilities, who are especially vulnerable.
Tier 3 includes health care workers who are “essential to the health care infrastructure and who regularly provide health care services that cannot be postponed or provided remotely,” according to the description from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Those in Tier 3 need to meet all of the following criteria: have direct patient contact or direct contact with infectious materials from patients, provide essential services in a health care setting that cannot be offered remotely or performed via telework, and provide a service in a health care setting that cannot be postponed without detrimental impact to the patient’s short-term or long-term health outcomes.
Examples of Tier 3 eligible workers include direct support professionals who provide personal care or home and community-based services, laboratory technicians, phlebotomists and workers performing COVID testing.
Tier 3 workers are also the first group that can sign up to get vaccinated at the DHSS website.
Moving on to Tier 3 doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in Tiers 1 and 2 has been vaccinated, Task Force Co-Lead Tessa Walker Linderman said last week.
“We know that some hospitals are still vaccinating their employees, we know that some long-term care facilities are still being vaccinated,” Walker Linderman said.
“But we are opening it up to Tier 3 because we do know that we have set aside enough vaccine for Tier 1 and Tier 2 to complete vaccination.”
Alaska also rolled out the requirements for those eligible in Phase 1b. This phase will not begin until February at the earliest, once everyone in Phase 1a has been taken care of.
Phase 1b, when it does happen, will be divided into four tiers. The first tier is anyone over the age of 65.
The second tier is essential workers over the age of 50 who work on-site in close proximity to others, plus people living in congregate living areas such as prisons, psychiatric facilities and group homes.
Those considered essential workers are teachers and school support staff, first responders, Office of Children’s Services staff, grocery store workers, food and agriculture workers like seafood processors, public transit workers, post office employees and utility workers in rural communities.
The third tier includes anyone between the ages of 55 and 64. It also includes anyone over the age of 16 living in “unserved communities,” defined as places where more than 45% of homes do not have piped plumbing, septic tanks or covered haul systems. None of Kodiak’s villages are considered unserved. Most are in the Y-K Delta area.
The third tier also includes any essential workers over the age of 16 who have two or more high-risk health conditions, like obesity, smoking, diabetes, kidney disease or other conditions.
Finally, the fourth tier includes anyone over the age of 50 with two or more high-risk health conditions, plus any essential workers older than 16 who are not covered in the first three tiers.
Indian Health Services and other federal providers, such as the Department of Defense or the VA, have the flexibility to vaccinate outside the tiers.
Kodiak reported 28 new cases at the end of last week. There were 22 on Dec. 30 and six on Dec. 31, bringing the borough’s active case count to 87. The Emergency Operations Center has not reported new cases since Dec. 31.
On Sunday, the DHSS reported 239 new cases of the virus statewide and no additional deaths.