COVID-19 Update: Vaccine administered in Homer, public comment meeting scheduled for Dec. 28

Dec 22, 2020

It only took a few days for South Peninsula Hospital to distribute its share of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. According to hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro. All the residents at SPH long term care and most of the healthcare workers in the hospital have been vaccinated with dose one of the two dose regimen. The hospital was scheduled to receive 215 vials of dose one. The State only delivered 180 vials to SPH, but with extra vaccine left in the vials, the hospital was able to vaccinate everyone on their list.

“The FDA approved using any additional vaccine that was stillin the vial. Even though we received 180 official doses, we were able to administer 214 vaccines. So, we ended up being able to vaccinate everybody who had signed up to do it,” Ferraro said.

In the last two weeks, Anchorage has been able to reduce their positivity rate by instituting increased restrictions on businesses and gatherings. At SPH, however, Ferraro says the positivity rate remains the same. Positive case numbers are no longer climbing, but they aren't falling either.

“Since last Monday, we've done 441 tests and of those 24 were positive and that puts us at about a 5% positivity rate. Testing at South Peninsula Hospital is at the same positivity rate this week as last,” said Ferraro.

Ferraro says they expect dose two of this set of Pfizer vaccines to arrive in Homer within the next two weeks. Doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Alaska on Monday. Fairbanks, Sitka and a few other Alaska communities have already received vials of dose one from Moderna.

“We are speaking to the State as I speak to you. Other staff are on a call with the State of Alaska to learn about the Moderna rollout plan,” Ferraro said.

The question that Ferraro says she is asked most often lately, is, “When will members of the general public be able to get the vaccine?”

“We stil don't know that answer, " said Ferraro,"They are not available this week and probably won't be available for some weeks to come. Continue to listen to local media and watch our website sphosp.org, because things could change pretty quick. As of right now there are no vaccines available for the general public.”

The State of Alaska will hold a public comment meeting on vaccine rollout, next Monday, December 28. Link to the meeting through the State of Alaska website.

Nurse Lorne Carroll from the Homer Public Health Center says until a vaccine is readily available, the community's only defense is to practice mitigation measures throughout the holiday season.

“Stick to your bubble and minimize your bubble to the best of your ability. And then, when you're out and about, really look to engage community mitigation measures by maintaining a distance of 6 feet or more and certainly not for more that 15 minutes, to minimize the virus's ability to pass from someone else to you,” Nurse Carroll said.

South Peninsula Hospital offers free testing 9 to 6 p.m. every day – except Christmas Day, when drive up testing will be open from 9 a.m. To 1 p.m. The testing site is at 4201 Bartlett Street in Homer. The number to call if you're coming in for a test, or with any COVID questions is 235-0235.

Nurse Lorne Carroll and Derotha Ferraro will take your questions live on KBBI's weekly COVID-19 Brief, this Thursday morning at 9. You can email your questions ahead of time to kathleen@kbbi.org.