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Alaska becomes first state to offer COVID-19 vaccine to everyone 16 and up

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy at a news conference in Anchorage in 2019.
(Mark Thiessen / Associated Press)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy says his state will become the first to drop eligibility requirements and allow anyone 16 or older who lives or works in Alaska to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

Dunleavy, who made the announcement Tuesday following his own bout with COVID-19, hailed the move to open up eligibility as a historic step.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker shows Alaska leading states in percentage of population to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Alaska last week vastly expanded eligibility to include those ages 55 to 64 and those 16 and older who are classified as essential workers, who are potentially at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or who live in multigenerational households or communities lacking water or sewage systems.

At the opposite end of the country, hundreds of cars streamed into a federally supported vaccination site in Miami that appeared to be offering shots to anyone who showed up, ignoring the state eligibility requirements set by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis that were intended to put seniors at the head of the line.

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State officials said they were trying to get to the bottom of the situation. It was unclear what authority state officials might be able to exert on federal facilities.

Florida and California responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in vastly different ways, but comparing outcomes isn’t so simple. Here’s what the numbers tell us.

Already, federal sites in Florida are adhering to federally issued guidelines that allow teachers and other school workers to get vaccinated, instead of complying with DeSantis’ directive, which sets an age minimum of 50 for educators and school staff.

Because of initially low demand, another federally funded vaccination site in Florida City last weekend began administering shots to any takers, regardless of age. The site was inundated the following day, prompting officials there to reimpose age restrictions.

On Tuesday morning, vehicles jammed the parking lot at Miami Dade College North. People waited hours, but by 10 a.m., officials at the site announced that they had depleted their supply of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


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