1,100 appointments for Juneau’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic got booked in 25 minutes

A man in a gray tshirt sits in front of a fire truck and is getting his arm poked
Capital City Fire/Rescue Paramedic Lily Kincaid injects firefighter/EMT Pete Ostman with a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at the downtown station in Juneau on Dec. 17, 2020. Osman used to be in Army, which he says turned him into a “pincushion” with various shots before deployments. (Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

All 1,100 appointments for this weekend’s mass COVID-19 vaccination event in Juneau are booked.

“All of the vaccine slots were filled within 25 minutes of opening,” said Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove.

The booking system went live at noon Monday. It got mixed feedback from two of Juneau’s elected officials on Monday night.

“It’s been really, really, really hard, and very frustrating, and people are very happy with the work the CBJ’s been doing,” Assemblymember Michelle Hale told city staff at the end of a committee meeting. “I just can’t thank you enough. Every single person that gets that vaccine brings us one step closer. So, thank you.”

“Ms. Hale, I’m going to need your help,” Assemblymember Loren Jones replied with a chuckle. “‘Cause I’ve failed twice. Still no appointments.”

Vaccine eligibility is limited mainly to people age 65 and up, like Jones, as well as frontline health care workers.

In city officials’ weekly COVID-19 community update on Tuesday, City Manager Rorie Watt apologized for the frustration. He said he appreciated the community wants to get vaccinated.

“Some communities are struggling with the question of, ‘How do we convince people to get vaccinated?’” Watt said. “We don’t have that problem here. I think Juneau’s been really receptive to the science and the public health.”

Watt said city staff hope to schedule more mass vaccination events.

As of today, Juneau officials know of 10 residents with active cases, as numbers trend down locally and statewide. City officials lowered the local risk level and community restrictions one notch on Monday.

A similar mass vaccination event in Anchorage with 1,800 slots filled up in several hours last week.

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Jeremy Hsieh is the deputy managing editor of the KTOO newsroom in Juneau. He’s a podcast fiend who’s worked in journalism since high school as a reporter, editor and television producer. He ran Gavel Alaska for 360 North from 2011 to 2016, and is big on experimenting with novel tools and mediums (including the occasional animated gif) to tell stories and demystify the news. Jeremy’s an East Coast transplant who moved to Juneau in 2008.

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