Nearly a quarter of Bristol Bay residents have received both doses of Moderna vaccine

Mar 8, 2021

Health organizations around Bristol Bay started to roll out the vaccine at the end of last year; in most communities, you can now get the vaccine if you are 18 years old or older.

Susie Jenkins-Brito puts a bandage on the arm of Kristin Smeaton, who had just received a dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. Feb. 13, 2021.
Credit Izzy Ross/KDLG

Around 1,800 people in Bristol Bay have received both doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. That's nearly a quarter of the region's population; according to the state Department of Labor estimates for 2020, about 7,200 people live in Bristol Bay.

As of Monday, the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation has administered the first dose of the vaccine to 1,795 people; 1,159 people have received the second dose.

In February, the tribal health organization expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone 18 years old or older, and BBAHC has held vaccine clinics in about half the communities it serves.

“We are trying to see if we can get the Pfizer for the 16- and 17-year-olds currently to widen our distribution of the COVID vaccine and to expand the protections to more people in Bristol Bay,” said Bernina Venua, the health corporation’s incident commander.

BBAHC has received an allocation of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but the health organization does not have a date for when it will begin distribution.

Two-hundred people have completed the two-dose series at the Dillingham Public Health Clinic.

Around Lake Iliamna, Southcentral Foundation has administered a total of 371 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine; 244 people have completed both doses. Region Manager Dustin Parker said in a text message that by the end of the week, they will have vaccinated everyone in their Lake Iliamna communities who wanted the vaccine. The foundation plans to start administering the Pfizer vaccine next week to those 16 and older.

 

In the Bristol Bay Borough, the Camai Community Health Center distributed 220 first doses, and 178 second doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Camai will hold a vaccine clinic on Saturday for borough residents. Clinic Director Mary Swain said the clinic will offer over 300 doses of the vaccine.

“It’s mainly first doses. And eligibility-wise, just about anybody that has a job in Bristol Bay is eligible,” she said.

The state’s vaccine eligibility guidelines currently include people 55 and older, essential workers, those with high-risk health conditions and people in multigenerational households.

The guidelines also include residents of “unserved communities” — or where more than 45% of homes don’t have a septic tank, pipe or covered haul system.

Swain said the Camai Center is able to offer the vaccine to more people because many jobs in the borough relate to the seafood industry, and so fall under the state’s list of essential workers.

“Just about every job in Bristol Bay Borough is listed in the critical infrastructure document," Swain explained. "Because we are a seafood-heavy reliant community, we can align all of our jobs going back to seafood in some way or another.”

People can receive a vaccine at the Bristol Bay Borough School’s new gym from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Around the state, almost 118,000 people have been fully vaccinated — roughly 16% of the state’s population. Almost a quarter of Alaskan residents have received one dose in Moderna or Pfizer's two-dose series.

Disclosure: Bernina Venua is the sister of KDLG seasonal reporter Brian Venua.

Correction: This story originally stated that almost a quarter of the state's residents had been fully vaccinated. Around a quarter of the state's residents have received one in a two-dose series.

It also reported that 2,946 people had received the first dose of the vaccine, and 1,162 people had received both doses. BBAHC reached out and said it had miscalculated those amounts; as of March 8 it has administered 1,795 first doses and 1,159 second doses.

Contact the author at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.