April 2, 2021 ANCHORAGE

 the latest Covid information that I’ve gleaned from medical research reports that I receive daily:
  1. The overall medical context is changing very quickly and not necessarily in a generally positive way due to the new Covid mutations now taking hold. 

  2. The newer, more contagious and dangerous UK Covid mutation is taking strong hold in the US and that seems to be driving recently rising rates of infection.  The State of Alaska's Covid reports that I receive indicate a recent doubling of Alaska's infection rate over the past two weeks.  However, those who have been fully vaccinated are not currently at high risk for serious disease, hospitalization, or death.  Full immunity is believed to occur about two weeks after the second shot and immunity lasts at least six months.

  3. Children are much more likely to be infected by the newer UK mutation that’s becoming dominant in the US and is driving the resurgence of serious Covid infections in Europe.   Unlike past experience, children and teens are now becoming the primary disease spreaders driving new surges in Covid infection in their households and the general population.

  4. Recent medical journal articles indicate that the UK mutation is about 64%  more lethal than earlier variants of Covid, which also means nastier long-term side effects experienced by many who become infected.

  5.  Preliminary studies show that Pfizer vaccine ( and likely the very similar Moderna two-shot vaccine) is nearly 100% effective in preventing Covid in children 12-15.  Unfortunately,  no Alaskan children are vaccinated yet because the vaccines are only now being tested for safety and effectiveness in children under 16.  It's suggested that most children could be fully vaccinated by the time that school starts in the Fall.

March 22, 2021 ANCHORAGE

Alaskans can be proud that our state leads the US in vaccinating its citizens 16 and older.  That's starting to show direct benefits. I am pleased to forward information from CDC setting out CDC's expanded range of safe options for those who are fully vaccinated, including small group meetings without masks.  As we continue moving forward toward the return of comfortable in-person social gatherings, I look forward to regional gatherings with as many of you as circumstances permit in June, 2021.  As another hopeful sign that Covid will wane over the next few months, information just received from MIT indicates that medications effectively curing early-stage Covid are moving toward late 2021 general approval.
Joe Kashi
DG 2020-2021

Here's the direct CDC link:

March 3, 2021 ANCHORAGE
Age 55 and above, essential workers, people with certain medical conditions and those who live in multigenerational housing are now eligible to be vaccinated.
The State of Alaska Vaccine Task Force has today significantly expanded the criteria for who is eligible to receive state-allocated COVID-19 vaccine. Those newly eligible can now sign up for an open vaccine appointment in their community.
If you are not finding an open appointment in the community where you live, please check back regularly for more availability. Thursdays are when most appointments are added to the state system.
Those previously eligible (Phase 1a and 1b) can continue to get immunized against COVID-19 if they have not already done so. This includes most health care workers, people age 65 and above, those living and working in congregate settings, some pandemic response workers and people age 50 and above who have a high-risk medical condition OR work in an essential job around others.
The newly eligible group, Phase 1c, includes:
  • Persons aged 55–64 years
  • Persons aged 16 and above who:
    •  essential workers as defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) OR
    • Are “high risk” or “might be high risk” for severe COVID-19 illness according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or their provider OR Live in a multigenerational household
    • OR Live in “unserved communities”
What qualifies as a medical condition is now expanded in Phase 1c to include anyone who has a medical condition that places a person at “high-risk” or “might be high-risk” for severe illness from COVID-19, according to the  CDC, or who is considered high-risk by a person’s medical provider.
Essential workers are those identified under the CISA definition.
A multigenerational household includes 3 or more generations, or “skipped” generations (e.g., a grandchild living with an elder).

January 27, 2021
The Department of Health and Social Services appreciates everyone’s patience and understanding as it works through the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process. The very limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines continues to present challenges in meeting the demand, but DHSS officials are pleased to announce more vaccine appointments for February will be made available Thursday, Jan. 28 for Alaskans who are currently eligible: 
  • Individuals 65 and older
  • Health care workers
  • Long-term care residents and staff
Before contacting a provider, please confirm eligibility.
Appointments will be scheduled by vaccine providers throughout the day on Thursday, with the bulk of appointments added around noon. Appointments will go quickly since vaccine supply is still limited, but more appointments are added on an ongoing basis.   
To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider visit covidvax.alaska.gov or call 1-907-646-3322. 
Aging & Disability Resource Centers are here to help.   
Alaskans who are 65 and older, people with disabilities, and their caregivers who need help with the vaccine scheduling process have an additional resource to rely on through Alaska’s Aging & Disability Resources Centers (ADRCs).
  • Call toll-free 1-855-565-2017 and choose option #1 to talk with a person
  • ADRC staff are available Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday noon to 8 p.m.
ADRCs can help with more than just COVID-19 assistance. There are six centers around the state that have been serving Alaskans for more than 15 years connecting by seniors and people with disabilities and their caregivers to long-term care services and supports so they can live as independently as possible in their home and community. More information is available at dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/Pages/adrc.
More vaccine information. 
Unfortunately, because of the limited supply, the State of Alaska is not yet able to expand eligibility to vaccinate other Alaskans at this time. We are prioritizing vaccinating people 65 and older because 70% of deaths from COVID-19 have been in this group of just 10% of Alaskans. Thank you for your patience as we protect our vulnerable elders. 
To learn more about eligibility, please visit covidvax.alaska.gov or contact the main vaccine helpline at 907-646-3322
Vaccines managed by the Alaska Tribal Health System, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense may have different eligibility criteria.”