Fairbanks' First Mass Vaccination Clinic

Jan 14, 2021

Interior Alaska Unified Incident Command team members pose in post-vaccination observation area of the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, in preparation for the mass vaccination clinic on January 15 and 16. L-R: Lanien Livingson, FNSB, Keith Fehr, Emergency Management FHP, and Clint Brooks, COO of FMH.
Credit Robyne / KUAC

All appointments filled in an hour for Fairbanks' first mass vaccination clinic at the Carlson Center. The Unified Incident Command is clearing the big arena to vaccinate 625 people on Friday and 625 more on Saturday.


The logistics for moving hundreds of people through here over a two-day mass clinic are actually pretty simple, but as Dr. Mark Simon explains them, he notes they are still getting worked out.

“So there will be a screening process that will happen in the car, and some paperwork for registration. And then, there has been a text process that they’ve been using, to notify people to come in, but sometimes there have been some hiccups with that.”

Dr. Simon came over to the Carlson Center Wednesday afternoon after his shift in the Emergency Department at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital to describe what patients might experience.

“And all of this is subject to a small amount of change, so we’ll ask people to be flexible.”

The Unified Incident Command for Interior Alaska is trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine into as many arms as fast as possible. Incident Commander Clint Brooks says this clinic is appointment-only for the folks in Phase 1A Tier 1. Brooks is the Chief Operating Officer for Foundation Health Partners.

Brooks: “We’ve been vaccinating first responders, so, our firefighters and EMS personnel, our hospital personnel that I volunteered to take the vaccine. We’ve been doing that for weeks now. Now, the state has given us the vaccine to do the elders, the 65 and older, which is a really good thing because that’s our most vulnerable population.”

Brooks says about 25 people will be acting as handlers to help answer questions and move people through the process. They are coming from the ever-enlarging group of partners in the Incident Command: the hospitals, doctors offices, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Fairbanks North Star Borough, the military.

Dr. Simon goes through the door, (sound) where patients will be directed to one of eight tables to get their inoculations.

“And then when people are ready to receive their vaccine, they will move into another portion of the Carlson arena, where they will receive their vaccine and have their 15-30 minutes of observation prior to leaving and getting on with their day.”

The surprise here is the spaced-out rows of chairs, where not very long ago there were hospital beds staged in “warm ready” status, waiting for an overflow of COVID-19 patients from Fairbanks Memorial and Basset Hospitals. Keith Fehr, Director of Emergency Management for Foundation Health Partners, says it could all be put back quickly.

“The warm ready status for the Carlson Center was able to be managed within about a three hour time frame to take that down. It’s staged in the back. And with 10 to 15 people, we can have that set up again the way it was in a 3 to 4 hour time span so we feel pretty confident to move that out of there the arena so the space can be used for the vaccine clinic.”

For this clinic, the Fairbanks Regional Public Health Center is using the Moderna vaccine, which requires patients to return 28 days later for a second dose. It is likely the scene at the arena will be repeated in February.