ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska on Tuesday broadened an already-wide list of people eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in the state to include anyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state.
State officials announced the change Tuesday ahead of a livestreamed briefing with Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
The change in eligibility makes Alaska the first U.S. state to remove eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 vaccine, state officials said in a statement.
The move comes just a week after the state opened vaccines up to anyone 16 and older who has a condition that puts them at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or who works in an essential job (which is defined broadly), as well as all Alaskans over age 55. Educators, health care workers, seniors and others in the state were already eligible under previous guidelines.
But even with the expanded eligibility, thousands of vaccine slots remained open at the start of the week.
Several tribal health organizations using a separate allocation of doses through the Indian Health Service were already vaccinating people ages 16 and older in many communities across the state.
Alaska has so far vaccinated a higher percentage of its population than any other state. By Tuesday, a quarter of its total population was at least partially vaccinated, compared to a national average of about 18%.