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Demand high on Lower Peninsula for coronavirus vaccine


The availability of appointments for the first round of vaccinations for the general public were announced -- which quickly filled up, and students returned to in-person learning.
    On Thursday morning’s Covid Brief, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said school principals she’s spoken to were thrilled with the return to classes. Middle and high school students are attending in-person classes half-time, taking turns on Monday and Tuesdays, and again on Thursdays and Fridays, with all students attending remotely on Wednesdays.
    She said students can return to classes full-time once the area’s coronavirus positivity rate falls below a certain point. Erkeneff also urged parents to look to official sources for their information.
    “But we do hear a lot of rumors out there and mistruths and things that aren't accurate,” Erkeneff said. “So please give a call to your school and talk to your school secretary, your student's teacher, the principal to make sure you've got accurate information.”
    The other big news is the opening of vaccination appointments for elders. Derotha Ferraro of South Peninsula Hospital said the response to vaccine availability was overwhelming.
    “I wish I could say flawlessly, but unfortunately our demand was far greater than our supply and we had a lot of disappointed folks, not only because they did not get her an appointment, but just because of the experience with technology. We did provide a phone line for those that did not have internet, but the bottom line is that having internet and being able to navigate modules for appointments are two different things,” Ferraro said. “And so we got a lot of feedback about coming up with a better, what would feel (to be a) more equitable way to access appointments. And we look forward to using that feedback to improve that system.”
    Ferraro said 600 doses were announced, but given the extra drug in each vial and some left over from the prior round of vaccination, the hospital was able to schedule 100 more individuals than planned. Even though, the wait-list began bursting at the seams.
    “Immediately when it filled, we'd started a wait list. And then I closed the wait list after there were over 200 people on it, because it seemed unreasonable to continue collecting names when it did not seem reasonable that those would be utilized.”
    As for the timing of doses, each person who is seen on Friday and Saturday at the vaccination clinic will be given an appointment on the spot for the follow-up shot, which is required with all the current vaccine brands.
    Alaska Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll said that two doses are required for each person to maximize the protective benefits of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.
    “Moderna is a little bit different. Dose two, like Derotha was saying, is 28 days after number one, with a minimum of 24 days. And there's no maximum,” Carroll said. “So you can get that number two Moderna dose anywhere after 24 days after administration of number one.”?    Vaccinations for those 700 who were able to get an appointment will be held on Friday and Saturday.
    Ferraro said it was unknown when the next supply of vaccine will be available in Homer.

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