Why Alaska has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate of all 50 states

A white woman with glasses speaks at a podium
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink talks to reporters at a press conference about the novel coronavirus on Monday, March 9, 2020. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska now has the most COVID-19 vaccinations per capita of any state in the country.

“Which is super exciting,” said Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer.

She spoke to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce on Thursday and explained why.

First, she credited Alaska’s communities for working together to get people vaccinated quickly.

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Second, she said Alaska is getting more doses of the vaccine because of additional allotments for the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service.

“We have the highest veterans per capita population. We have a large military presence. And we have a large Indigenous population with over 229 sovereign tribes,” Zink said. “And so, because of those reasons, we did get some additional vaccine in the state via those federal partnerships.”

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Zink said the allotment for the Indian Health Service, which works with tribal entities, could have been subtracted from the state’s allotment. But in the end, it was an addition.

“That’s been transformational for Alaska, that decision for Operation Warp Speed,” she said.

On Thursday, the state reported that more than 14,000 people have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. More than 67,000 people have gotten at least one of the shots in the series.

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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.