Alaska expands Tier 2 vaccination group, opens eligibility

by Tim Edwards, Director of Safety  |   

Dear UAA Community,

Earlier today Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) announced it would open vaccine eligibility for Phase 1b Tier 2 beginning tomorrow at noon. This tier includes Alaskans age 50 and older who are:

  • At high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to existing medical conditions.
  • Frontline essential workers.

Phase 2 also opens up the availability of the vaccine to pre-K, K-12, child care education staff and people living and working in some congregate settings. This will not affect eligibility for most UAA employees and students but may open up eligibility for some.

If you have not already done so, please read the communication below sent by the University of Alaska’s statewide Incident Management Team this afternoon. It provides valuable information outlining eligibility for those in the university community and links to state vaccination resources. We strongly encourage those eligible at this time to get the vaccine via local providers. Resources are available at the COVID-19 information site.

Tim Edwards
Director of Safety

Feb. 10, 2021: COVID-19 Update from UA Statewide IMT

Today the State of Alaska announced that, starting on Feb. 11, people in Phase 1b Tier 2 will be eligible to sign up to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state has expanded the definition of who is eligible in Tier 2. That expansion includes certain categories of people age 50 and over:

  • People with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of COVID-19 complications
  • Frontline essential workers

Some university employees and students will fit into one of these two categories. The state’s COVID-19 vaccination website has a list of qualifying medical conditions. If you are unsure whether your medical condition makes you eligible for vaccination at this time, you should speak with your health care provider.

The state website also includes guidance for what constitutes a “frontline essential worker.” Two things must be true in order for someone to be considered a frontline essential worker:

  • Their work falls into one of the categories listed in the definition of an essential worker.
  • Their work duties cannot be done remotely and involve being in proximity to others.

If you have been required to work on site during the pandemic, and are age 50 or older, you may be eligible for vaccination. If you are unsure, the state website has a tool that will allow you to check your eligibility. The tool will be updated on Feb. 11 to reflect Tier 2 eligibility. Please only make an appointment if you are eligible. The tiered system is designed to make sure that the people most at risk have access to vaccines first.

You may see in news stories that the state has also expanded Tier 2 eligibility to include preschool and K-12 educators, regardless of age. This category does not apply to college and university staff and faculty members.

It’s great news that more members of the university community are now eligible for vaccination, however it’s also important to remember that vaccine supplies are still very limited, especially for the rest of the month. There will not be enough appointments, initially, for everyone who wants to get vaccinated. Please be patient with local vaccine providers as they work to make as many appointments available as possible.

The university does not currently have any on-campus vaccination events planned, but may in the future. In the meantime, we encourage any eligible employees or students who want the vaccine to sign up when appointments are available in their communities. The best source of information about eligibility and available appointments and vaccination sites is the State of Alaska vaccination website. You can also find links, university-specific information and resources on the university’s COVID-19 vaccine information page.

If you have been vaccinated, it’s still important to continue to wear a mask, avoid gatherings of people outside your household, stay 6 feet away from others and wash your hands frequently. The COVID-19 vaccine is effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization, but scientists are still studying whether it can prevent asymptomatic infection and transmission of the coronavirus to others.

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