ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The city of Anchorage has ramped up efforts to provide underserved communities the coronavirus vaccine.
The city provided workers from a contracted vaccine provider to administer shots at the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday.
The measure is part of an effort to make the vaccine accessible to groups who may normally be unable to get the vaccine, including people without health insurance and people who speak limited English, Alaska Public Media reported.
“We’re really into a place where we just need easier access,” said Anchorage Health Director Heather Harris.
The city has created vaccine clinics in sports arenas, hotels and churches. Anchorage has also targeted the LGBTQ+ and Hmong communities and hospitality workers.
“We are really focused on bringing vaccine, whatever small amount to locations to do folks that might otherwise have access issues,” said Christy Lawton, who leads the city’s vaccine equity effort. “And if that’s, you know, 150-dose clinic we have to do over the next few months at every little church in town, then that’s what we’re doing.”
Lawton said that while filling appointments has been difficult, a community advisory board on vaccine equity that the city created in January has increased engagement. The group has about 50 members now and meets about every week.
“We have probably more requests now than we’ve got staff to mobilize so we’re trying to get to all of them as fast as we can,” Lawton said.
About 41% of Alaska residents over age 16 had received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of Thursday, according to data from the state Department of Health and Social Services.
That includes 72% of residents 65 years and older. About 29% of people 16 years and older have been vaccinated.