Updated COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

March 3, 2021

In this update:

  • Alaska expands vaccine eligibility
  • What if I have side effects?
  • Stay the course and finish strong
  • Watch for campus-specific spring break travel guidance

Alaska expands vaccine eligibility

Today, the State of Alaska announced another expansion of its COVID-19 vaccination criteria. Under the expansion, a large number of Alaskans, including many UA employees, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

New groups of people eligible include:

  • Anyone over the age of 55
  • People who meet the definition of an “essential worker”
  • People who are or might be at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to a medical condition
  • People who live in multigenerational households
  • People who live in communities where many homes lack water and sewer systems

The state’s COVID-19 vaccination website has a list of qualifying medical conditions. If you are unsure whether your medical condition makes you eligible to receive the vaccine at this time, you should talk to your doctor. The state website also has definitions of an essential worker, as well as specific details on other eligibility categories. People who were eligible in previous tiers but who were not vaccinated can get vaccinated.

This eligibility update has removed many of the previous age restrictions and broadened the definitions of what qualifies under the “medical conditions” and “essential workers” categories. Currently, vaccination is only authorized for people age 16 and over. 

Visit the state’s eligibility quiz to see if you are eligible to get vaccinated. You can also find vaccination appointments on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination website. The university’s COVID-19 vaccine information page has additional resources and university-specific information.

It’s likely that vaccine supply will continue to be limited for a while, so there may not be enough appointments immediately for everyone who wants to get the vaccine. However, the news that the federal government just authorized a third vaccine is encouraging. In addition, the State of Alaska expects to receive more than 110,000 doses of the three vaccines during the month of March. All three of the vaccines are highly effective at preventing serious COVID-19 illness. Eligible employees and students who want to be vaccinated should sign up for available appointments in their communities. Find appointments at the state’s COVID-19 vaccination website.

What if I have side effects?

Mild to moderate side effects are normal and are a sign that your body is building immunity. Those side effects might include things such as pain at the injection site, fever, chills, fatigue, headache and muscle pain. Most only last for a day to two and can be managed with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. Instructors are encouraged to be flexible with students who need to miss class due to vaccine side effects. Employees who miss work due to vaccine side effects should claim normal sick leave. As always, if you are feeling ill and think you may have COVID-19, please stay home, speak to your health care provider and consider getting tested.

Stay the course, finish strong

Wider vaccine eligibility and stable case rates are great news for Alaska and our university communities. It’s important that we stay the course with safety measures to keep case counts low as we wait for everyone in our communities who wants to get vaccinated to do so. For now, most people will continue to work remotely and our classes will remain mostly virtual. Continue to wear a mask, avoid gatherings of people outside your household, stay 6 feet away from others and wash your hands frequently. Remaining vigilant now will allow all of us to be together in person sooner.

Watch for campus-specific spring break travel guidance

Many of you have already received or will be receiving guidance from your university regarding testing and strict social distancing if you travel outside Alaska for spring break. In general, you need to have a negative test and practice strict social distancing for 5 days before you return to in-person work or class. You can read more about what you need to do when you return from travel outside the state in the university’s Campus Entry Restrictions guidance. The guidance also includes information for travelers who have recovered from COVID-19 or are fully vaccinated. Employees can find information about what kind of leave to use if you have to practice strict social distancing in the employee FAQs section of the UA COVID-19 website.