The Anchorage School District unexpectedly became the city’s first large-scale public vaccine distribution site Thursday as hundreds of people, mostly seniors, showed up for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Initially, the district expected to vaccinate about 250 people at the clinic.
“However, with the number of people that we realized we’re able to move through the line very quickly and efficiently, we’ve doubled our capacity,” said district Healthcare Services Director Jennifer Patronas. “We’re on target to do about 500 today.”
People were lined up outside the doors of the Education Center, and after getting their shots they waited in the room where the school board normally meets to monitor for adverse reactions.
The clinic, which opened Wednesday, had vaccinated 998 people as of Thursday evening.
While it is not a walk-up site, people who are eligible for a vaccine (currently healthcare workers and those over the age of 65) can sign up for an appointment through the state’s website or add their name to a waitlist. Patronas said additional appointment slots are added throughout the day as they become available.
The district, which Patronas said is partnering with the state on its vaccination rollout plan, has experience providing thousands of flu vaccines each year, Patronas said, and used that experience to stand up the COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
“We saw that we had a lot of capacity to give a lot of vaccine in a quick amount of time,” Patronas said. “Our nurses were excited to provide the vaccine to the community and we were excited that they wanted to participate.”
Jennifer Perkins, a registered nurse with the district said, most of the shots she gave went to senior citizens.
“Every person that has come here, the elders, have been excited,” Perkins said.
Dave Boyd, a retired Chemistry teacher, was one of Thursday’s vaccine recipients. Boyd said being retired, he hasn’t been as directly affected by the pandemic as people currently in the workforce. “[But] I’m feeling really thankful that I got to come down here today and, and get the vaccine,” Boyd said.
Boyd said no one should have any hesitation getting the vaccine. “I’ve taught chemistry in schools for the last 30 years. I think I know enough, hopefully, that I feel comfortable that this vaccine is fine.”
The clinic will remain open until Friday Jan. 15. Patronas said the district is not reserving any vaccines for its nearly 6,000 staff members at this time, and does not plan to run the clinic through the school year, as nurses and staff will be primarily focused on reopening school buildings to students for full-time learning on Jan. 19.
The district plans to administer all of the vaccines they currently have, about 2000 doses, and will order additional doses from the state to get through the remainder of their clinic schedule and to provide secondary shots to everyone who received their first dose at the Ed Center.
Jeff Chen contributed reporting to this story.