Y-K Delta's Young Population Creates Wider Gap To Reaching Herd Immunity Through Vaccinations

Feb 26, 2021

The smallest Kasigluk dancer performs with his community dance group at the Cama-i Dance Festival on March 16, 2018 in Bethel, Alaska.
Credit Amara Freeman / KYUK

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta's young population means that the region faces a longer road ahead of it than other areas of the state and country before it can reach herd immunity against COVID-19 through vaccinations.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is on a mission to get every eligible person in the region vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta became one of the first places in the nation where the general population could receive a vaccine when YKHC opened vaccinations to all tiers in mid-January.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s lead infectious disease expert, told the New York Times that from 70% to 90% of the U.S. population will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop the virus’s transmission. But under current guidelines, a large portion of the population is too young to receive a vaccine. The two vaccines with emergency use authorization in the U.S. are not approved for children. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved for people age 16 and older. The Moderna vaccine is approved for people age 18 and older.

According to U.S. Census data, about 24% of both the nation’s and Alaska’s population is too young to be vaccinated. That percentage of young people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is higher, at about 37.4% of the region’s population. The percentage varies from village to village. Dr. Ellen Hodges, Chief of Staff for YKHC, said that in some communities, half of the population is too young for vaccination.

But that could change in the coming months. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have begun clinical trials to test their COVID-19 vaccines in children.

To request a COVID-19 vaccine from YKHC, follow this link: