The initial excitement about the COVID-19 vaccine is devolving into confusion as Alaskans try to figure out who can be vaccinated when and where.
The state is struggling with a logistical nightmare involving intermittent shipments of limited numbers of vaccines that need to be kept at extremely cold temperatures, an unwieldy system for prioritizing when categories of people can receive vaccines, and an array of potential providers which, under the right circumstances, might be able to administer a vaccine.
We can sympathize with the enormity of the challenge. There isn’t enough vaccine available for everybody right away. Decisions have been made about what specific categories of Alaskans are eligible for receive vaccines now and which categories will have to wait for later.
That means there are many questions — and seemingly few concrete answers. And when people who are eligible for vaccines find, as they did on Wednesday, that all of the vaccination appointments that were available to be booked online statewide were booked within 25 minutes, frustrations start to build.
We don’t know what the answers are. We can point local folks who are interested in vaccination appointments to the state’s website at www.covidvax.alaska.gov. Vaccination appointment questions can be routed to the Department of Health and Social Services by phone at (907) 646-3322. DHSS officials anticipate being able to return calls within 24 hours. Ketchikan Indian Community members can contact the KIC Tribal Health Clinic at (907) 228-9200.
Our hope is that the national vaccine supply expands quickly, and that the mechanisms for communicating the availability and scheduling for vaccinations statewide and locally improves substantially.