Almost 40% of eligible Wrangell teens fully vaccinated

As of Monday, 38% of Wrangell youth ages 12 through 17 had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, less than the statewide average of 48%, according to state health department statistics.

The national rate is about 60%, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though children as young as 5 became eligible for the shots earlier this month, the state website does not track vaccination rates separately for 5- through 11-year-olds on the “Sleeves Up for School” online dashboard.

SEARHC started offering vaccinations for children as young as 5 just three days after federal approval of the shots, with the first Wrangell clinic on Nov. 11.

The next vaccination clinic for first- and second-dose recipients, and also booster shots, is scheduled for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Wrangell Medical Center, according to SEARHC’s Facebook page on Monday.

The fully vaccinated rates for 12- through 17-year-olds in Sitka, Skagway, Bethel and Nome are about double Wrangell’s percentages, around 70% to 80%, with the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna boroughs trailing the state at about 30% each.

And while SEARHC continues offering shots to boost Wrangell’s vaccination numbers and protect its residents from serious illness, the community is nearing the end of its worst month of the pandemic for new cases of the highly infectious disease. As of Tuesday evening, the community had recorded 58 cases in November, surpassing the old record of 48 set in August.

This month’s number is almost 25% of all the cases recorded in town since the pandemic tally started in March 2020.

All but one of the 58 cases are Wrangell residents, and most were close contacts of recent positive cases.

The number of new infections has declined in recent days, and with individuals recovering from the illness the active case count in Wrangell was down to 18 as of Tuesday evening, the borough reported.

Anyone with symptoms of the illness or a close contact of an infected individual can call the Wrangell Medical Center at 907-874-7000 to schedule an appointment to get a free COVID-19 test.

No-appointment-required free testing is available for individuals without symptoms from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at the testing trailer in the parking lot at the medical center.

As of Monday, 64% of Wrangell’s 5-and-older population had received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 61% were fully vaccinated. Among the 18-and-older group, the percentages were 72% with a first dose and 70% fully vaccinated, according to the state COVID website.

Petersburg continues to struggle with a wave of new cases this month, reporting 63 active cases in the community on Tuesday and 52 new infections in the past seven days, with more than one in seven tests during that time coming back positive.

State statistics on Tuesday showed 178 new cases in Petersburg over the past 30 days, about triple the rate in Wrangell.

Statewide, the number of new infections is declining, averaging 325 cases a day over the past week and just 157 on Tuesday, the health department reported Tuesday. That’s almost half the daily rate of 600 for the past 30 days, and down significantly from September’s highs of more than 1,200 new cases on several days.

The death toll from COVID-19 as of Tuesday was 864 statewide, with 13 each in Ketchikan and Juneau, five in Sitka, three in Petersburg and no deaths reported in Wrangell.

Almost 149,000 cases have been reported in Alaska during the 21-month pandemic so far, with more than 3,100 hospitalizations, according to the state. There have been five individuals hospitalized in Wrangell during that time, the state COVID dashboard said.


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