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Alaska the first state to make coronavirus vaccines available to all residents 16 and older

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

Alaska became the first state Tuesday to make the coronavirus vaccine available to all residents 16 and older.

“This historic step is yet another nationwide first for Alaska, but it should come as no surprise,” said Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “Since day one, your response to the pandemic has been hands-down the best in the nation. I couldn’t be prouder of Alaska’s response.”

The nation’s largest state has already administered over 300,000 vaccine doses, and nearly one-sixth of its population has been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University. Several rural states, including West Virginia, North and South Dakota and New Mexico, are vaccinating at similar rates, while some more populous states are still reserving their doses for older and at-risk groups.

Alaska’s coronavirus response has been relatively successful, with the state recording just 305 deaths, though they have disproportionately come from the state’s native populations, according to Johns Hopkins.

Vaccinations have picked up across the country as manufacturers increase their supply and as more communities get access to Johnson & Johnson’s recently-approved, one-dose vaccine. Daily vaccinations nationwide have averaged at approximately 2 million, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and have been steadily increasing since they were first approved in December.

President Joe Biden said last week that there would be enough vaccine supply for every adult by the end of May. On Wednesday, the federal government signed a contract with Johnson & Johnson for an additional 100 million doses.

“A healthy community means a healthy economy,” Dunleavy said. “With widespread vaccinations available to all Alaskans who live or work here, we will no doubt see our economy grow and businesses thrive.”

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