August 4, 2021 (Anchorage, AK) – Today, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, publicly encouraged every eligible Alaskan to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The Governor, who contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in February 2021, made the decision to be vaccinated in June.
“Alaskans, by working together since early 2020, defied the odds and protected our most vulnerable loved ones and neighbors,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Because of Alaskans making good choices and looking out for each other, our state has weathered the effects of this virus better than almost anywhere in the country. Now, thanks to the efforts of President Trump and Operation Warp Speed, there is a safe, free, and widely available tool to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. That tool is the vaccine.”
The COVID-19 vaccines developed under the Trump administration include both an mRNA method developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as well as Moderna, and an adenovirus method developed by Johnson and Johnson. Alaska’s vaccine rollout in the spring was heralded as a national leader in protecting primarily the elderly and the most medically vulnerable. To date, over half of all eligible Alaskans are fully vaccinated, including more than 71% of Alaskans aged 65 or older.
“Vaccines are our best way of keeping Alaskans out of the hospitals, or heaven forbid, lose their life, to COVID,” said Dr. Zink. “Nothing is more effective in fighting this virus and getting us all back to normal than this game-changing tool.”
The Governor and Chief Medical Officer’s announcement comes as positive cases and hospitalizations rise within the state, driven by the Delta variant of the virus first identified in India. While the latest version of COVID-19 appears to still infect some fully vaccinated individuals, the protection against serious illness, requiring medical care, or death is largely intact. Roughly 6% of individuals currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States are fully vaccinated.
“Deciding to take the vaccine is a personal choice, and one the State of Alaska should and will respect,” continued Governor Dunleavy. “There’s a lot of misinformation in the public, generated by the media and others. My request to Alaskans is to talk to their personal medical provider, and make the best choice for them and their families. I trust Alaskans to take threats to their health seriously but also rationally. That faith in Alaskans is what got us through all the prior waves of this pandemic, and it will be what ultimately defeats this virus.”
Dr. Zink added, “because this virus now spreads more easily from person to person, getting vaccinated not only helps to protect you, but it also helps protect others, such as our children who cannot yet get vaccinated, elders, or others who have weakened immune systems.”
The need for student in-person learning
Governor Dunleavy and Dr. Zink also emphasized the need for Alaskans to resume important activities, including in-person learning this fall for students.
“Children cannot afford to be out of the classroom another day,” said Governor Dunleavy. “As a long-term teacher, and father to three students, I know children need to be with their peers in class to socialize and learn. There is no reason in-person learning cannot happen this school year, and happen safely.”
“We know that children do best with in-person learning and look forward to them returning to school this year as we collectively work to minimize the impact of this virus on Alaskans,” said Dr. Zink.
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For the latest information on COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 Information Hub here.