A big component of Alaska’s Number One vaccination status is Tribal Health Corporations. In the Interior, Tanana Chiefs Conference provides health care for 42 villages across the region. After weeks of successful vaccine distribution to the villages, TCC is now trying to reach people who live in Fairbanks, including FNSBSD teachers and school staff.
Since middle December, more than 10,000 does of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by Tanana Chiefs’ pharmacists, pharmacy aides, health aides, nurses and doctors. Most of those went to 5,500 Indian Health Service clients in Yukon, Koyukuk and Tanana River Villages, but many went to non-Native village residents. Pharmacy Director Daniel Nelson says the health corporation’s policy was that any village resident over the age of 16 should get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to help keep the whole community immune to COVID-19.
Then in February the Alaska Native nonprofit opened vaccinations to its 12,500 clients who live in Fairbanks. By the end of the month, non-Native household members of clients and non-Native TCC employees were encouraged to make appointments.
TCC is responsible for more than 4% of all of the COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in Alaska. Part of the reason is that tribes are receiving an additional allotment of vaccine from the federal government, and part of the reason is the existing vaccine distribution network that is in place for more routine vaccines for diseases like Polio, and Tetanus.
Now, TCC is offering vaccinations to employees of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as a community service.
On Friday, (February 26th) the school district received a call from TCC’s Deputy Director of Clinical Services stating they would like to offer vaccine appointments to any of the 1,500 staff members and 900 teachers in the district, Native or non-Native, who haven’t already received a shot from the state. Natasha Singh says the strategy helps everyone.
“We figure getting the vaccine to the school district, will help keep the numbers down. If we can keep our children safe, we do that by keeping our teacher safe.”
School district employees can call 907-451-6682 ext. 3601 to schedule their appointment.
The state is keeping track of tribal and Public Health vaccinations. As of Tuesday, there have been 157,023 people who have received at least one dose and 104,349 people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for a total of 260,616 doses administered in Alaska. For more information, visit covidvax.alaska.gov.
And there is a third stream of vaccine in Alaska – coming through the Department of Defense for soldiers, airmen and veterans. However, the military is not sharing the numbers of how many service members have been vaccinated.