Tracy Morris/Primary Health Medical Group via AP 
In this Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, photo provided by Primary Health Medical Group, Ben Weiss, 10, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Primary Health Medical Group in Meridian, Idaho.

Tracy Morris/Primary Health Medical Group via AP In this Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, photo provided by Primary Health Medical Group, Ben Weiss, 10, gets a COVID-19 vaccine at Primary Health Medical Group in Meridian, Idaho.

Officials recommend vaccination ahead of holidays

Dr. Zink: kids’ vaccines are safe

State and federal authorities are ramping up vaccine distribution for young children, state health officials said Thursday, encouraging parents to considering getting their children vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Just like we buckle up kids in the car considering getting your kid vaccinated,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, during a weekly meeting with reporters. “If you have questions contact your healthcare provider.”

Zink said recent studies have shown high effectiveness for preventing COVID-19 in children, but noted that like with adults, it will take some time from after the first dose until children’s immune system will fully develop its natural immunity. Adults are considered fully vaccinated two weeks following their final dose of the vaccine. So far only the Pfizer vaccine is available for children ages 5-11, and is given in two doses adminstered 21 days apart.

Registration for the Juneau School District pediatric vaccine clinics opened at noon Thursday with the first clinics scheduled for Monday, Nov. 8.

[Statewide campaign coffers are filling up]

Zink and other state health officials emphasized vaccines’ ability to prevent serious infection and hospitalization from COVID-19. A monthly report from the Alaska Division of Public Health shows that from January 2020-September 2021, the majority of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

The highest number of cases and hospitalizations in Alaska have been in the past few months, state data show, with the vast majority of hospitalizations among the unvaccinated. The state is recording a number of vaccine breakthrough cases —fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19 —but the rate of hospitalization for vaccine breakthrough cases remains low.

According to state data, from July-September 2021, 6.7% of hospitalizations for the 12-49 age group were vaccine breakthrough cases. Data shows vaccine breakthroughs in those same months were 12.5% of the 50-64 age group and 32.1% of the 65 and older age group.

Zink said as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it is important to think about whom you might be interacting with, and what precautions might be taken to limit the spread of COVID-19. Family gathers and social contact are an important part of health, Zink said, but gatherings often bring together people who may be older or immunocompromised.

“It’s great to share our love and friendship at the holidays,” Zink said. “It’s not great to share our viruses.”

During the news conference with Zink and other state health officials, Alaska Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Tiffany Albert said the group was working with national counterparts regarding the Biden administration’s vaccine or testing requirements for businesses. Additional information would hopefully be available Friday, she said.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced last month the state was joining several others in a lawsuit pushing back against the requirements. The Biden administration has said employers with facilities of a certain size must require vaccines or testing for employees. Vaccine requirements have a legal history going back to smallpox putbreaks in the early 20th Century, according to an April 2, U.S. Congressional Research Services report.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé students hold up signs during a rally along Egan Drive on Tuesday afternoon protesting a proposal to consolidate all local students in grades 10-12 at Thunder Mountain High School to help deal with the Juneau School District’s financial crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
JDHS students, teachers rally to keep grades 9-12 at downtown school if consolidation occurs

District’s proposed move to TMHS would result in loss of vocational facilities, ninth-grade students.

Deven Mitchell, executive director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., gives a tour of the corporation’s investment floor to Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, and other attendees of an open house on Friday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. leaders approve proposal to borrow up to $4 billion for investments

Plan must be OK’d by legislators and Gov. Mike Dunleavy because it requires changes to state law.

Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, presides over a mostly empty House chamber at the end of an hourslong recess over education legislation on Monday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empure)
Tie vote kills early House debate on education funding

Lawmakers spend much of Monday in closed-door negotiations, plan to take up bill again Tuesday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announces his proposed FY2025 budget at a news conference in Juneau on Dec. 14, 2023. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Gov. Dunleavy proposes tax breaks for the private sector to address Alaska’s high cost of living

The Dunleavy administration’s proposal to address a crisis of affordability in Alaska… Continue reading

Lacey Sanders, director of the state Office of Management and Budget, presents Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s updated budget requests for this fiscal year and next to the Senate Finance Committee on Monday at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Small changes in governor’s proposed budget could mean big moves for Juneau

New plan moves staff from Permanent Fund building, opening space for city to put all employees there

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Smokestack emissions into Fairbanks’ atmosphere are seen on March 1, 2023, from the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska legislators give closer look at bill aimed at storing carbon emissions underground

Bill could enable enhanced oil recovery, sequestration of emissions from new coal-fired power.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read