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Infectious Disease
COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccine information

If you are a healthcare professional, find additional information on this COVID-19 vaccine information for healthcare workers page.

How is the state of Alaska planning for a COVID-19 vaccine?

The State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium are working jointly to plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. While no vaccine is currently available, we are reviewing federal guidance and are following progress on COVID-19 vaccine trials and potential Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized vaccine(s).

On October 16 an PDFAlaska Draft COVID-19 Vaccination Plan was submitted to the CDC for review. This plan will be adjusted as we learn more.

When will the vaccine be available?

An exact date the vaccine will be made available is not yet known. We are planning so we will have a clear course of action when a vaccine is available. A limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine may be available as soon as November 2020.

Will the vaccine be available to everyone in Alaska?

At first, vaccine would be available in limited supply and would be offered to certain groups. Federal government guidance would prioritize initial supply. We are receiving ongoing guidance from federal agencies on how to prioritize availability of vaccine. The vaccine may also require two doses, separated by either three or four weeks.  Some of the prioritized populations may include:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Staff and residents in long-term care and assisted living facilities
  • Critical worker infrastructure workforce
  • People at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness
  • People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19

Will there be a COVID-19 vaccine mandate?

There are no plans for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be safe and effective?

There are many vaccines currently undergoing clinical trials. We are closely following the progress of these trials. Any vaccine would need to be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for making sure vaccines are safe and effective. We will learn all we can about any authorized vaccine, and we’ll work to share what we learn.

This publication from the FDA provides links to many publicly available resources to learn more about vaccine development and authorization.

How will the vaccine be distributed to healthcare providers?

We are planning for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC recently released a playbook to accelerate our planning and we expect to have a plan prepared and submitted to the CDC by October 16.

Healthcare workers wishing to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to patients will enroll in a COVID-19 Vaccine Program, administered through the Alaska Immunization Program. Enrollment is not yet open at this time.

Enrolling providers, distributing vaccine, and tracking vaccine doses are not new for our immunization program. COVID-19 vaccine may require new considerations, however, such as ultra cold storage and handling requirements, multiple vaccine presentations – most requiring 2 doses – that are not interchangeable, and rollout during an ongoing pandemic. We’ll also need to clearly communicate availability of the vaccine to populations at the highest risk.

More information for healthcare professionals can be found on the COVID-19 vaccine information for healthcare workers page.

Who is responsible for planning for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The State of Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium are working jointly. The CDC recently released a playbook to accelerate our planning and we expect to have a plan prepared and submitted to the CDC by October 16. The initial planning stages will focus largely on guidance provided by the CDC. The team will be establishing contact with stakeholders throughout the state as planning develops further.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Team includes eight sub-teams including planning, operations, software solutions, payers, pharmacy, communications and education, data and a liaison team. Together, these teams are reviewing federal guidance and are planning a clear course of action for when a vaccine is available.

Local planning is essential to the effective distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The planning team anticipates that Local-level emergency operations centers and healthcare workers will have flexibility to consider ways vaccination efforts may need to be tailored to fit their community. Communities play a critical role by assembling local vaccine planning teams with representation from a variety of stakeholders, reviewing the capabilities and challenges for equitable distribution of the vaccine in their communities, and utilizing local resources such as pharmacies, vaccine providers, and Point of Dispensing plans to ensure that individuals have access to the vaccine in all phases of the distribution process.

Updated October 22, 2020