Story at a glance
- Alaska is offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone 16 and older.
- The move comes as the majority of states are still reserving appointments for high-risk groups and adults 65 and older.
- Nearly a quarter of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose.
Alaska is now offering the COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who lives or works in the state over the age of 16, becoming the first in the nation to remove eligibility requirements for the critical shot, the state’s governor announced Tuesday.
“This historic step is yet another nationwide first for Alaska, but it should come as no surprise,” Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) said in a statement.
“Since day one, your response to the pandemic has been hands-down the best in the nation. I couldn’t be prouder of Alaska’s response. From being the first state to offer widespread testing, to maintaining one of the lowest mortality rates in the country, to rolling out vaccinations to every willing Alaskan, we got here by working together.”
The move by Alaska comes as the majority of states are still reserving appointments for high-risk groups and adults 65 and older, although some are beginning to open eligibility requirements as more shots are administered and vaccine supply becomes more available. The state last week expanded eligibility to include adults ages 55-64, anyone 16 and older who is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and essential workers.
While the vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech is available to those who are 16, shots developed by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have only been authorized for people 18 and older.
The state has administered more than 290,000 doses so far and has fully vaccinated more than 119,000 people. That means nearly a quarter of Alaska’s population has received at least one dose.
Some regions are already nearing or exceeding a 90 percent vaccination rate among seniors.
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