Alaska to broaden COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

a person administers a vaccine to another person
Anchorage School District teacher life skills teachers assistant Loy Donaldson receives the Moderna Covid-19 vaccination. Donaldson was one of 771 people who received vaccines at the ASD Education Center on Jan. 7, 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The state is opening COVID-19 vaccinations to a much broader group of Alaskans beginning Thursday. 

Alaskans with underlying health conditions who are as young as 50 will be able to receive the shots, along with teachers, workers in congregate settings, such as shelters, and COVID-19 response workers of any age. A detailed explanation of those who are eligible can be found on the state health department’s website. 

Previously, the state had said it would focus vaccination efforts through February on healthcare workers and Alaskans older than 65 who are currently eligible. 

But in a press release on Wednesday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said that “many of the seniors who wanted to get vaccinated have done so.”

The state originally said the first group of teachers eligible for vaccine would only include those 50 and older. But it changed that guidance in its announcement Wednesday, saying all teachers could get the shots.

More than 114,000 Alaskans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, according to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. That’s more than 15% of the state’s population and currently the highest rate of any state in the country.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink cited additional vaccine doses allocated to the state as the reason for the decision to move to expand eligibility. But she said that initially, demand for the vaccine will outpace supply. 

Alaskans can schedule vaccine appointments on the state’s website. 

This is a developing story and will be updated.