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Bristol Bay's health care providers gear up to vaccinate people 65 and older

Courtesy of Dustin Parker

Health care providers will begin to contact eligible individuals and schedule appointments for vaccinations today.

People around Alaska age 65 or older can start to receive the first of two vaccine shots as soon as Monday. Health care providers around Bristol Bay will begin to contact eligible individuals and schedule appointments for vaccinations today. People 65 and older make up Phase 1b, Tier 1 of the state's vaccine allocation plan.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation plans to send out teams to villages to administer the vaccine.

“That will include all resources needed for administration as well as any possible severe adverse events," said Bernina Venua, the head of the health corporation’s COVID-19 task force. "We know that is a concern of people and we do know that it is rare, however we are planning to be ready for any kind of response.”

Venua said they will release a schedule for those trips as soon as it is available.

Around Lake Iliamna, all employees with the Southcentral Foundation’s clinics have already received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have vaccinated 39 frontline medical staff and ancillary support staff, and we will work to vaccinate them all 28 days from now," said Dustin Parker, the manager for the Southcentral Foundation’s Iliamna Lake region. “It’s going very well. Lot’s of travel logistics as you can imagine, but I’m very comfortable with where we are to date.”

The Camai Community Health Center in the Bristol Bay Borough is continuing its vaccination efforts as well. Twenty-two people have received the first dose of vaccine so far, according to clinic Director Mary Swain.

Providers will begin vaccinating people 65 and older next week. If people are in that group and want a vaccine but do not receive a phone call by Monday, they can call the clinic.

There is also a new testing option for people in the borough who are traveling out of state for longer than five days. They can get an at-home PCR test at the clinic.

“You will register that test, take it with you, and then 72 hours prior to return to Alaska, you will swab yourself, directions are all included in the box, send the kit in the mail, and you’ll receive your results in your smartphone or email,” she explained.

Swain said this will allow for safer and more flexible travel.
Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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