It was a welcome surprise when the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation received nearly three times as many COVID-19 vaccine doses as it had expected.
On Dec. 16, YKHC received a shipment of 2,925 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the State of Alaska and the Indian Health Service. As of Dec. 11, the health corporation had been expecting just 1,000 doses in its initial allocation. This will speed up plans for distribution of the vaccine.
On Dec. 17, YKHC began COVID-19 vaccinations of frontline health care workers in Bethel, as well as residents and staff of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Elder’s Home in Bethel. On Dec. 18, YKHC will charter flights to begin vaccinating village-based health care workers. These flights, as part of Operation Togo, will continue into the following week. Over the next few weeks, YKHC will vaccinate all eligible health care workers in the Y-K Delta.
Health care workers and nursing home residents and staff are part of phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution schedule. Because of the extra vaccine doses it received, YKHC said in a press release that it will be able to begin phase 1b “much sooner than anticipated.”
On Dec. 19, an advisory panel for the CDC is expected to provide final guidance on who should be included in phase 1b of vaccine distribution. Phase 1b is expected to include essential workers, people with high-risk medical conditions, and adults over 65 years old. The state’s Vaccine Allocation Committee will also need to sign off on who is eligible to receive the vaccine during phase 1b.