Governor won’t mandate coronavirus vaccine, health commissioner says

Alaska Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum, left, speaks at a news conference with Gov. Mike Dunleavy on April 9, 2020. (Creative Commons photo by Alaska Governor’s Office)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy will not mandate Alaskans receive a vaccine for coronavirus if one becomes available, the state’s health commissioner said on Thursday. 

Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum described the governor’s position during a virtual town hall meeting. 

“There will be no mandatory vaccination from the state-side. This is going to be made available to individuals who want this,” he said.

Crum said the state has a vaccination strategy team that is working on a plan on how to allocate vaccines around the state if they’re available. 

“There is no mandatory vaccine in the state of Alaska for influenza and nor will there be for COVID[-19],” Crum said. “This is not something the health team’s recommending, nor the governor will allow.” 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said fewer than half of Alaskans received a flu vaccine last year. He’s aiming to raise that level to two-thirds this year.

The state does require several vaccinations for students to attend schools. They are for: diphtheria, tetanus, polio, pertussis, measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rubella and varicella. Health and religious exemptions are allowed. 

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