Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, are doubling down on their efforts to get every eligible Alaskan injected with the experimental COVID shots.
In an Aug. 4 statement, the governor revealed that he had finally decided to get the shot himself after pressuring Alaskans to submit to it for months. Dunleavy contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in February, and made the decision to get the shot in June, he said.
Dunleavy characterized the COVID shots as a “safe, free, and widely available tool to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror.”
Dunleavy also suggested that widespread vaccinations among those ages 12 and up are the key to returning to in-person learning for school children this fall.
His comments come on the heels of the CDC’s claims that all Americans should remain masked and social distancing, regardless of their vaccination status.
Just over half of Alaskans (ages 12 years and older) are deemed “fully vaccinated.” That amounts to 319,139 out of an estimated 731,000 residents. Some areas of the state, however, such as the Mat-Su, Kenai Peninsula and Fairbanks have much lower vaccination rates. Nevertheless, these areas have consistently shown lower transmission rates than regions with much higher vaccination rates.
Both the governor and Dr. Zink, however, see vaccines as the game changer the will return Alaska to normalcy.
“Vaccines are our best way of keeping Alaskans out of the hospitals, or heaven forbid, lose their life, to COVID,” Dr. Zink said in the Aug. 4 press release. “Nothing is more effective in fighting this virus and getting us all back to normal than this game-changing tool.”
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While the statement from the governor’s office affirms that deciding to take the experimental shots is “a personal choice,” it then insinuates that non-vaccinated Alaskans are informed by “a lot of misinformation.”
“My request to Alaskans is to talk to their personal medical provider and make the best choice for them and their families,” Dunleavy said. “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.”
Dunleavy’s statement suggests that widespread vaccinations among those ages 12 and up are the key to returning to in-person learning for school children this fall.
“Children cannot afford to be out of the classroom another day,” Dunleavy said. “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.”