Alaska became the first state in the nation Tuesday to lift all eligibility requirements for adults to get a coronavirus vaccine.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) announced Tuesday that all individuals who live or work in Alaska and are age 16 and older can get a shot. The vaccine from Pfizer is available to individuals who are 16 years old and up, while the vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Moderna are available to those who are at least 18 years old.
“This historic step is yet another nationwide first for Alaska, but it should come as no surprise. Since day one, your response to the pandemic has been hands-down the best in the nation,” Dunleavy said in a statement to Alaskans. “I couldn’t be prouder of Alaska’s response. From being the first state to offer widespread testing, to maintaining one of the lowest mortality rates in the country, to rolling out vaccinations to every willing Alaskan, we got here by working together.”
Alaska has had one of the lowest death tolls in the nation at 305 and recorded just 91 new cases Monday, according to state data. There have been nearly 60,000 cases in the state since the pandemic began.
Dunleavy’s move puts Alaska ahead of every other state, which are all still imposing specific qualifications for residents to get a shot. Last week he opened up vaccines to anyone 55 and older, essential workers, including first responders and teachers, and people with underlying health problems.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alaska has administered the most total doses per 100,000 people out of any state at 41,376. New Mexico is the only other state that has given over 40,000 doses per 100,000 people.
States are scrambling to make vaccines more widely available to expedite the end of the pandemic. While three vaccines are currently in circulation, experts have expressed alarm at the spread of more infectious variants and a plateauing of a drop in cases across the country.