(Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska becoming 1st US state to open vaccines to nearly all

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska has become the first state to drop eligibility requirements for COVID-19 vaccines and allow anyone 16 or older who lives or works in the state to get a vaccine, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday.

Dunleavy made the announcement following his own bout with COVID-19. Dr. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday that officials were seeing open vaccine appointments and wanted to act to allow as many people who want a vaccine to get one.

Alaska has led states in the percentage of its population to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker.

The state last week vastly expanded eligibility to include those ages 55 to 64 and those 16 and older who are classified as essential workers, at or potentially at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or who live in multigenerational households or communities lacking in water or sewer systems.

Groups from prior tiers included health care workers, those 65 and older and teachers.

Two approved vaccines require two doses. A third, requiring one shot, is being rolled out.

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