Covid-19 hospitalizations trending younger

May 28, 2021

Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska Chief Medical Officer
Credit State of Alaska

Host Kathleen Gustafson had a special surprise guest on Thursday morning’s Covid Brief. Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink phoned in from the Sterling Highway, as she was being driven from Kenai to Homer for events later in the day.
    Zink noted that Alaska has lowered its Covid-19 alert status to ‘orange,’ which is as low as it's been in a year. A lot of that could be credited to the aggressive rollout of vaccines, which have proven incredibly effective.
    “When you look at the data, you know, the MRNs vaccines are 94 to 95 percent efficacious. So that means that one out of 20 people could still get mildly symptomatic COVID. But they did an amazing job by also preventing hospitalizations and deaths,” Zink said. “In the younger data  that Pfizer data for those 12- to 16-, 12- to 18-year-old age group it was a hundred percent effective at minimizing it.”
    Zink went on to say that those hospitalized with Covid-19 are almost exclusively those who are unvaccinated, adding more and more younger people are becoming infected.
    “So what we're seeing in our hospital cases, and in our case counts as well, is 98 to 99 percent of all of our cases and hospitalizations are in unvaccinated individuals,” she said. “We're seeing a trend toward the younger individuals being hospitalized, likely because our older individuals, our elders are more likely to be vaccinated.”
    She said that Alaska so far has a lower incidence of Coronavirus variants than other parts of the country.
    “We are seeing some variants in the state, particularly the UK variant and that one's been picking up. We don't have as many  as most other states in the United States and we are not seeing vaccine break-through. So in the cases that we are able to sequence in the few people that have gotten COVID since being vaccinated, we're not seeing any breakthrough associated with that, which is fantastic to see,” Zink said. “And that's not only statewide, but that's nationwide. And so these vaccines look to do an amazing job at not only preventing you from getting the disease, but spreading it to others. And that is including the variants overall. And that is the reason we really want to have as many people vaccinated as possible prior to the summer season where people come in.”
    She said the state is encouraging any unvaccinated traveler to get a covid test at Anchorage International when they arrive.
    Zink, along with Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum were in Homer to hold a meet-and-greet at the Homer Public Health Center in Old Town Thursday morning.