Alaska Announces a COVID Vaccine 'Game Changer'

If you're 16 or older, you can make an appointment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 10, 2021 8:08 AM CST
Alaska Announces a COVID Vaccine 'Game Changer'
In this file photo dated Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, three vials of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are pictured.   (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, FILE)

Alaska has led states in the percentage of its population to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC's COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, and there's a good chance it won't lose that title. On Tuesday it became the first state to drop eligibility requirements for COVID-19 vaccines and allow anyone 16 or older who lives or works in the state to get a vaccine. Gov. Mike Dunleavy made the announcement after his own bout with COVID-19, which he said underscored his own desire to be vaccinated. He said he did not become severely ill but did not want “to be laid up in the house again," impact his family, or possibly spread the virus to others. He described expanding eligibility for vaccines in Alaska as a "game changer," particularly with the summer tourist season looming and as the state seeks to rebuild its pandemic-tattered economy.

He said he respects those who do not wish to get a vaccine and wanted to relay his personal experience for those mulling vaccination, reports the AP. "I would ask that you give some due consideration,” the Republican said. Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said officials were seeing open vaccine appointments and wanted to act to allow as many people who want a vaccine to get one. More appointments will be added as vaccine is moved around the state and additional doses come in, she said. "This does feel like a gigantic milestone in so many ways to get to the point where we can offer protection for anyone who wants it in the state," Zink said during a news conference with Dunleavy.

(More Alaska stories.)

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