Alaska on March 9 became the first U.S. state to drop eligibility requirements and allow anyone 16 or older who lives or works in the state to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Dunleavy said individuals 16 or older who live or work in the state can get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, while the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines will be administered to individuals who are at least 18 years old.
“This historic step is yet another nationwide first for Alaska, but it should come as no surprise. Since day one, your response to the pandemic has been hands-down the best in the nation,” Dunleavy said in a statement.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Alaska’s response. From being the first state to offer widespread testing, to maintaining one of the lowest mortality rates in the country, to rolling out vaccinations to every willing Alaskan, we got here by working together.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker shows Alaska leading states in the percentage of its population to have received two doses of a vaccine.
Alaska also has one of the lowest death tolls nationwide, with 301 COVID-19 related deaths as of March 8, according to figures from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Coronavirus Response Hub.
Dunleavy encouraged all “Alaskans that are thinking about” getting vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so, adding that it “gives us the ability now in Alaska to far outpace other states.”
“We want to get our economy back up and running. We want to get our society back up and running,” the governor said. “We want to put this virus behind us—as far as possible, as soon as possible.”
On March 3, Dunleavy opened up COVID-19 vaccines for essential workers, people with underlying conditions, and those aged 55 and above.
Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said the move marks a “gigantic milestone.”
The website for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services currently states that while appointments are limited, more open up regularly, with new appointments added every Thursday.