Bartlett Regional Hospital infection preventionist Charlee Gribbon prepares vaccines during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Bartlett Regional Hospital infection preventionist Charlee Gribbon prepares vaccines during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau vaccination clinic opens to new eligibility tier

Juneau’s rolling up its sleeves and getting down to business.

Juneau expanded its eligibility definitions for the coronavirus vaccine, beginning Thursday at a clinic at Centennial Hall.

About 510 people were expected to get vaccinated Thursday and Friday, said City and Borough of Juneau Emergency Operations Center planning chief Robert Barr in an interview. All slots in the clinic have been filled.

“Our first two pods, we scheduled it in such a way that we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to grow it,” Barr said. “We were doing 40 people every 20 minutes. We upped it to 30 people every 10 minutes and that’s going fine. We wanted to see how far we could push.”

Wendy Wallers administers the coronavirus vaccine to Christina MacDougall during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Wendy Wallers administers the coronavirus vaccine to Christina MacDougall during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Residents now eligible for the vaccine include people aged 50 and older with high-risk conditions, people 50 and up working as a frontline essential worker, all educational staff and people living or working in congregate settings.

[Bitter cold temperatures flirt with record lows]

A crew of 45 staff and volunteers ran those who met the freshly expanded guidelines through a pipeline that saw them registered, briefed, pricked and then sat down in a distanced waiting area and observed for any signs of adverse reaction while they were registered by assistants for their second-stage dose. That number is unlikely to expand, Barr said.

“I think we’re pretty close to capacity,” Barr said. “For social distancing purposes we’re about maxed out at the number we have.”

Lydia Steele administers the coronavirus vaccine to T.J. Cramer during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Lydia Steele administers the coronavirus vaccine to T.J. Cramer during a clinic at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Demand for vaccine far outweighs supply, Barr said, but they’re able to handle things smoothly. The clinic took a morning rush in stride, and was on track for a smooth finish. Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel assisted in a number of specialist and generalist roles

“CCFR’s role in this is functioning as reaction monitors,” said assistant chief Travis Mead in an interview. “So far we haven’t been needed.”

A lot of the job of the reaction monitors has been ensuring people get scheduled for their second dose, necessary for the efficacy of the vaccine.

“Having enough iPads on hand has been helpful,” Mead said. “It helps if they have an internet capable device to establish that second appointment.”

The City and Borough of Juneau held a clinic for the next round of eligible recipients to get vaccinated at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

The City and Borough of Juneau held a clinic for the next round of eligible recipients to get vaccinated at Centennial Hall on Feb. 11, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

While it’s possible to do appointments without one, having someone in the house with an email to receive confirmation emails facilitates things a great deal, Mead said.

“Overall, we’re getting a lot of good feedback,” Mead said. “The challenge is access to more vaccines. That’s the limiting factor.”

The next city clinic will likely be announced in one or two weeks, Barr said.

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

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