Sitka – In late 2020, multiple variants of the COVID-19 virus were identified in the United Kingdom (UK), South Africa and Brazil – both the UK and Brazilian variants have been identified in Alaska resident cases. The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) recommends all patients ages 16-and-older register for a vaccine at covid19.searhc.org to protect themselves and their communities from these quick-spreading variants.
According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), antibodies generated through Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations effectively protect patients from the known mutations. The CDC is monitoring all variants closely to ensure continued vaccine effectiveness. The CDC states that the variants appear to spread more easily and quickly, leading to more COVID-19 cases and increasing the strain on healthcare facilities through added hospitalizations.
“Viruses continually evolve and mutate, so the presence of variants is expected,” said SEARHC Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Elliott Bruhl. “Early studies show that these variants are more easily transmissible, which is concerning, but I’m encouraged by the studies that show vaccines continue to be effective against these variations. SEARHC urges all who are eligible to receive a vaccine to sign up to protect our region further.”
In addition to vaccination, SEARHC medical leaders recommend strict adherence to public health measures to limit the virus’s impact on our region – such as social distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and staying home when sick – even after a patient has been fully vaccinated.
Patients aged 16 and older who are interested in receiving the vaccine are encouraged to register online at covid19.searhc.org. A valid email address is required to sign up. For patients not yet 18-years-old, parental or guardian consent will be required prior to vaccination.
Vaccine doses are available with no out-of-pocket costs to the general public in communities throughout the Southeast region and to beneficiaries and existing SEARHC patients in Juneau.
Individuals who have questions regarding the vaccines should contact their local SEARHC clinic. For more information, visit covid19.searhc.org.