Public Health nurse April Rezendes gives a Juneau resident their flu vaccine at the Public Health Clinic on Nov. 23, 2021. The vaccine is available as are COVID-19 vaccinations. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Public Health nurse April Rezendes gives a Juneau resident their flu vaccine at the Public Health Clinic on Nov. 23, 2021. The vaccine is available as are COVID-19 vaccinations. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Juneau now offering walk-in vaccines and boosters

Boosters are free, easy, and convenient to get.

The City and Borough of Juneau is now offering walk-in vaccines and booster for children and adults at the Juneau Public Health Center.

Free walk-in appointments are available till the end of the year, less holidays, the city announced.

“We’re receiving a little bit of federal support out there,” said deputy city manager Robert Barr in a phone interview. “Public Health has an additional nurse to help them do that work. They’re offering pediatric and adult doses.”

The appointments come as the city seeks to vaccinate now-open demographics, such as youths 5 and older.

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“Additionally, we’re doing our second dose clinics next week for the schools,” Barr said. “Those are primarily for the kids who got their first doses earlier.”

Barr estimated that between 900-1,200 children in the 5-11 age range had been vaccinated in Juneau since the federal government OK’d that age range’s vaccinations, in addition to children getting vaccinated at other places, such as the public health clinic or SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. All told, Barr said, probably between one-third and one-half of the children in that age range have received vaccines.

At this time last year, the vaccination rate for Juneau was a cold 0%, as the city had not received any vaccine shipments yet. Now, Juneau is among most vaccinated regions in Alaska with more than 80% of the eligible population having at least one dose, and 74% of the eligible population being completely vaccinated., according to state data. The East Aleutians Borough is the only borough with a higher vaccination rate, according to the state.

The city has also begun a multi-phase operation to provide at-home testing capability to businesses and soon, citizens at large.

“We are in kind of Phase 1 of 2 in distributing antigen over-the-counter tests. The first phase is getting them out to any organization that’s at higher risk,” Barr said. “Phase 2 is broad distribution. We’re waiting for an additional shipment.”

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are freely available for eligible Juneau residents at the Juneau Public Health Center on all weekdays without an appointment required.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are freely available for eligible Juneau residents at the Juneau Public Health Center on all weekdays without an appointment required.

About 4,000-5,000 test kits have been distributed so far, Barr said, starting with industries such as bars and restaurants where employees stand a higher risk of exposure as patrons remove their masks to eat or drink. Bar owners recently expressed support for the idea, saying it would help to return the battered industry to normalcy.

“It’s one of the tools we hope is going to help move us from pandemic to endemic,” Barr said. “The feedback we’ve gotten so far is positive.”

The kits, which both have two tests in them, are able to detect COVID when it’s present at transmissible levels, Barr said. The idea in distributing them is for an employee they’re issued to to use them if they feel any symptoms that could be COVID, and get a result back within 15 minutes.

The city is also keeping a watchful eye on COVID levels as we re-enter the holidays, but without excessive worry, Barr said.

“It’s certainly something that we’re paying attention to,” Barr said. “Reading the tea leaves on that, my hope is that we don’t see as much of a holiday spike due to our higher vax rate in the community and our declining case rate. We don’t have as much covid in town as we have in the past few months.”

Need a vaccine or booster?

Those wishing to get a vaccine or a booster from Juneau Public Health Center can make an appointment at juneau.org/vaccine, call 586-6000, or walk in to the clinic at 3412 Glacier Highway. Walk-ins still require a brief online registration, but can be done in-person. Children 5 and older are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, and adults 18 and older can get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and booster.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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