The region’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in Bethel on Dec. 16, and vaccinations will begin on Dec. 17.
The first vaccine landed in Bethel on the afternoon jet. Pfizer sent the shipment to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation through UPS, according to YKHC spokesperson Tiffany Zulkosky. The health corporation expects to receive two more packages of the vaccine on the evening jet. These additional vaccines come from the state through an Indian Health Service allocation. In total, YKHC expects to receive 2,925 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 16.
The health corporation is using an ultra-cold freezer borrowed from the UAF Kuskokwim Campus to store the vaccine at the required temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit.
YKHC plans to begin vaccinating people "first thing" on Dec. 17, according to a YKHC press release. The inital people to receive the vaccine will be residents and workers of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Elder’s Home, and the region’s health care workers who might work with COVID-19 patients.
Each person will need to receive a second dose three weeks later to attain maximum immunity from the vaccine.