Nearly 70 percent of Sitkans are “fully” vaccinated. State public health reports that 73 percent of the population have received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Health providers report that around 1200 third dose and booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Sitka. Fire Chief Craig Warren told the Sitka Unified Command last week (10-14-21), that the third dose is causing some confusion over vaccination rates because the state’s COVID-19 information system was designed to track two doses, not three or more. 

“The people that are getting the third dose, or the booster, if you will, is messing up the numbers in the dashboard, because it wasn’t built with that in mind,” Warren said. “When they realize the errors are there, they’re trying to correct them. But in the meantime, we may still see some glitches until the state gets their system ironed and all the way out.”

SEARHC representative Shoshauna Schmidt gave an update on how many “third dose” shots the consortium has administered in recent weeks.  

“SEARHC has provided around 900 third dose or booster vaccines, which is pretty exciting since they were approved in late September,” Schmidt said. “We have also just completed just over 1,200 flu shots. We’re offering combined clinics for both the boosters and the flu vaccines two days a week.”

Sitka pharmacist Trish White said Harry Race Pharmacy has administered around 300 third doses and around 50 boosters of the vaccine during its weekly clinics. 

There is an important distinction between a “third dose” and a booster dose of the vaccine. Boosters are currently recommended for people who received their initial Pfizer vaccine doses at least six months ago and are 65 or older, have underlying medical conditions, or live and work in high risk settings. As of October 19, the FDA had yet to approve boosters for those who received other types of vaccine such as Moderna or Johnson & Johnson. It has, however, approved a third dose for immunocompromised people who received either Pfizer or Moderna. The third dose can be given as soon as a month after the first two shots of the mRNA vaccines have been administered. 

 SEARHC is hosting vaccine clinics twice a week for initial vaccinations and booster shots. The next clinic is Wednesday (10-20-21) from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. Harry Race Pharmacy will host its next vaccine clinic on Friday (10-22-21). Sign up for a vaccine booster/third dose appointment with SEARHC here. or with Harry Race Pharmacy here through the state’s vaccine portal.

Editor’s Note: Shortly after publishing this story on 10-20-21, the FDA approved booster shots for individuals who received Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Read more about the FDA’s decision here.