A second location in Bethel is offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Bethel Family Clinic received 150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Feb. 2 and is currently accepting appointments. The clinic is now offering PCR tests for COVID-19 as well, and said that that those test results can come back within 48 hours.
Medical Director Debra Cyphert said that Bethel Family Clinic’s 150 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are currently stored in an ultra-cold freezer at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. She said that the clinic’s doses of the vaccine are available to first responders and anyone 65 or older. At YKHC, COVID-19 vaccines are now available to anyone in the general population 16 years or older.
Bethel Family Clinic also began offering PCR tests for detecting COVID-19 with a 24 to 48 hour turnaround time a couple of weeks ago. Cyphert said that Bethel Family Clinic is sending out PCR test samples on the first available Alaska Airlines flight to BeechTree Labs, a private commercial lab in Anchorage.
“They are actually processing tests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so they're able to get the results back much more quickly than our state lab is able to,” Cyphert said.
YKHC offers both Abbott and PCR tests for detecting COVID-19. Those samples are generally sent to the state lab, which takes days to weeks to get a result back. While YKHC also offers on-site rapid testing using Abbott or PCR samples which can come back within hours, the health corporation’s website says that it has limited availability for those on-site rapid tests.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine with Bethel Family Clinic will be completely free, just as it is with YKHC. Billing for a PCR test through Bethel Family Clinic may be a little different than it is with YKHC. If you are uninsured, the PCR test will be paid for by a federal program. If you have health care coverage, Bethel Family Clinic will bill your insurance or Medicaid.
If you live in Bethel, you can schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment or get tested at Bethel Family Clinic by calling 543-3773 and pressing 1 to reach the medical front desk. To get a vaccine with YKHC, you can fill out a form on their website. YKHC is offering free COVID-19 testing without an appointment in Bethel, Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Feb. 8, 2021: An earlier version of this story stated that the more contagious strain of COVID-19, first identified in the United Kingdom, was detected in Anchorage at the end of January. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services stated that the new COVID-19 variant arrived in Anchorage at the end of December, and was later analyzed to confirm that it was the strain first identified in the United Kingdom.
Feb. 9, 2021: KYUK previously reported that Bethel Family Clinic was offering COVID-19 vaccines to anyone with chronic diseases. That is incorrect. Bethel Family Clinic is currently providing vaccines only to first responders and anyone 65 or older. KYUK also reported that Bethel Family Clinic’s PCR testing could detect different COVID-19 strains. That is incorrect. Different coronavirus variants are detected by a state lab.