Governor Mike Dunleavy spent an extended amount of time during his Sept. 15 online town hall emphasizing that he does not plan to force Alaskans to take a COVID-19 vaccination if one is developed.
“I have no intention of mandating a vaccination for COVID. I don’t – I don’t have any intention of mandating a vaccination for the flu,” he said. “There will be no mandate coming from my administration, forcing the people of Alaska to take a vaccination.”
I believe we’ve done really well in Alaska – not through mandates.
This message echoed statements made last week by state health commissioner Adam Crum.
While a number of statewide health mandates were imposed earlier this spring, the governor said his preferred mode of operation has been to offer advice and then leave individual decisions up to Alaskans on how to respond to COVID-19.
“We’re going to share everything we possibly can with the people of Alaska – all the data, all the information we can,” he said. “I believe we’ve done really well in Alaska – not through mandates.”
The question did not come up, and the governor did not address, whether local communities and cities might mandate vaccines in their areas.
In a separate question, Commissioner Crum addressed the issue of people being denied permission to visit loved ones in the hospital. The problem grabbed headlines this week when a man was barred from visiting with his ailing daughter at Providence hospital in Anchorage. A small peaceful protest ensued outside the hospital entrance.
Crum said those decisions are not based on a statewide mandate.
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“Visitation in healthcare facilities is completely within the discretion of those facilities,” he said. “So, it is their decision to make as to what personnel, what people can go into what units.”
“There have been some high-profile instances lately of individuals of individuals asking for access into a hospital to see a loved one, which we understand,” Crum added. “So, we’ve had conversations – we’re working with the hospital association. We’re trying to find the sweet spot that hospitals can have a little bit of uniform guidance.”
Crum said the state is working with hospitals to develop a possible testing protocol or a PPE protocol which would allow for visitors.