Gov. Dunleavy will get COVID-19 vaccine, but stops short of recommending it for Alaskans

A white man in a suit speaks
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a Dec. 15 news conference. (Alaska Public Media)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy declined to say whether he thinks other Alaskans should get a COVID-19 vaccination, although he said he would get one himself.

“So, I’m going to do what I think is best for me,” Dunleavy said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I would encourage others to do what they believe is best for them.”

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Alaskans should talk with their doctors, Dunleavy said, adding that he doesn’t know people’s individual medical situations.

Dunleavy said he expects to get the vaccination in roughly two weeks, because he recently got a flu shot.

“I’m doing that because I don’t want to necessarily occupy a hospital bed if I don’t need to,” he said. “Others may not want to, and I respect that.”

When asked if he believes that the vaccinations are safe and effective, Dunleavy said he wouldn’t be getting one if he didn’t. He said the vaccinations will be a “game changer” in the state.

There have been declines in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and percentage of positive tests for the virus in the past week, according to State Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink. She said Alaskans’ actions to reduce the spread have contributed to the declines.

“On Nov. 12, the governor asked us all to wear a mask and keep our distance and keep our social circle small, and you can see, we’ve been seeing kind of a steady trend there,” she said, referring to the data. “That’s because of all of the hard work that Alaskans have been putting into this and doing these mitigation efforts.”

Dunleavy issued a new COVID-19 disaster declaration that took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. The declaration will last 30 days. He said the declaration will help the state receive and distribute vaccinations.

Some legal experts and legislators have questioned the legal basis of new COVID-19 disaster declarations without the Legislature meeting to extend the original declaration issued back in March. But since Dunleavy issued a second declaration 30 days ago, no lawsuits have been filed challenging its legality.