Gov. Dunleavy will get COVID-19 vaccine, but stops short of recommending it for Alaskans

Updated post — Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy declined to say whether he thinks other Alaskans should get a COVID-19 vaccination, although he said he would get one himself.

“So I’m going to do what I think is best for me,” Dunleavy said at a news conference on Tuesday. “I would encourage others to do what they believe is best for them.”

Dunleavy said Alaskans should talk with their doctors, adding that he doesn’t know people’s individual medical situations.

Dunleavy said he expects to get the vaccination in roughly two weeks, because he recently got a flu shot.

“I’m doing that because I don’t want to necessarily occupy a hospital bed if I don’t need to,” he said. “Others may not want to, and I respect that.”

When asked if he believes that the vaccinations are safe and effective, Dunleavy said he wouldn’t be getting one if he didn’t.

Dunleavy also said the vaccinations will be a “game changer” in the state.

There have been declines in the number of new cases, hospitalizations and the percentage of positive tests for the virus in the past week.

State Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said Alaskans’ actions to reduce the spread have contributed to the declines.

“On Nov. 12, the governor asked us all to wear a mask and keep our distance and keep our social circle small, and you can see, we’ve been seeing kind of a steady trend there,” she said, referring to the data. “That’s because of all of the hard work that Alaskans have been putting into this and doing these mitigation efforts.”

Dunleavy issued a new COVID-19 disaster declaration that takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. The declaration will last 30 days. He said the declaration will help the state receive and distribute vaccinations.

Some legal experts and legislators have questioned the legal basis of new COVID-19 disaster declarations without the Legislature meeting to extend the original declaration issued back in March. But since Dunleavy issued a second declaration 30 days ago, no no lawsuits have been filed challenging its legality.

Original post — Dec. 15, 4:30 p.m.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s latest COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for 5 p.m. today.

The governor, Department of Military and Veteran Affairs Commissioner Torrence Saxe, Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum and Public Health Director Heidi Hedberg, and Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink will be present.

The update is scheduled to cover the COVID-19 Public Health Disaster Emergency Declaration, the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan and the weather-related disaster in Haines and Southeast Alaska.

Alaska-specific COVID-19 resources and information are available at coronavirus.alaska.gov.

You can watch today’s press conference live on this post, and on the governor’s Facebook or Livestream pages.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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