By Melinda Munson

While a majority of the country waits their turn for a COVID-19 vaccine, Skagway opened vaccination clinics to anyone over 18. Nearly every adult who wished to be vaccinated received the first of a two-part series.

As of Feb. 8, 617 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed. A clinic scheduled for Feb. 12 will give second doses to approximately 100 individuals. Sixty health care providers and essential workers have already received their second doses.

“We came up a little bit short,” Borough Manager Brad Ryan said. A handful of people who wanted the vaccine will have to wait for their first dose.

The high vaccination rate is a turnaround from just a few weeks ago when Haines invited all its residents to be inoculated as Skagway waited for its first doses.

SEARHC in Haines, which received its vaccines from Indian Affairs, donated surplus supply to Skagway. That, in combination with vaccines received from the state, allowed the town with no hospital and a population of approximately 800 to cover nearly every adult resident.

“It’s incredible how well we’ve been taken care of,” Ryan said.

Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being utilized. The “ultra cold temperature requirements” for storing the Pfizer vaccine don’t immediately come into effect, Ryan said, after initial concerns that the company’s vaccine could not be safely held in Skagway.

“You have five days from the day you crack open the case in Anchorage to use it,” he said.

The vaccination clinics were held in the Skagway Public Safety Facility. After receiving shots, residents waited 15-30 minutes in a circle of socially distanced chairs by the fire engines, under the supervision of EMTs.

There were no reports of severe side effects. 

Heidi Fairbanks reported extreme fatigue and said she fell asleep in her bathtub. But, she noted, she’s a teacher and it was a Friday.

Charity Pomeroy said her side effects were “hope, gratitude and love for everyone in 99840.” She also experienced fatigue and a “mildly sore arm.”

Anyone over 18 interested in getting their first COVID-19 vaccine should call Dahl Memorial Clinic at 907-983-2255.