With more than 61% of eligible Juneau residents vaccinated, city switches to smaller pop-up clinics

 

Axel Gillam sits in the pews of Resurrection Lutheran Church during a pop-up vaccine clinic event.
Axel Gillam sits in the pews of Resurrection Lutheran Church during a pop-up vaccine clinic event. (Photo by Bridget Dowd / KTOO)

Demand for COVID-19 vaccines is dwindling in Juneau. More than 61% of the city’s eligible population is fully vaccinated, so the city isn’t planning any more mass vaccination clinics.

Juneau residents who still want to get their first shot can now turn to small, pop-up clinics instead.

When Juneau officials started offering mass vaccination clinics for the COVID-19 shot, demand exceeded supply. They were often giving out more than 1,000 doses per event.

But there’s been a clear tapering in demand. The most recent first-dose clinic was the city’s last. They had capacity for over 1,000 doses but only gave out about 300.

Now, any Juneau organization can apply to have the shots come to them. Robert Barr, Juneau’s Emergency Operations Chief, said applicants can submit a set number of people who they know will want vaccines or set up an event on a walk-in basis. 

“There are factors that go into that,” Barr said. “What’s the potential for walk-ins at the space? Have we done something recently in that small, geographic area around the site?”

Two churches hosted pop-up clinics on Monday. Brad Perkins is the program coordinator for Resurrection Lutheran Church. He said he thought offering vaccines during their month-end food pantry was the perfect opportunity.

Two churches hosted pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Monday, April 26. (Photo by Bridget Dowd / KTOO)
Two churches hosted pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Monday, April 26. (Photo by Bridget Dowd / KTOO)

“The last Monday of the month is usually our busiest because people are running out of money,” Perkins said. “We’ll see at least 50-60 people today picking up food, so we had a pretty good guess that we could get a number of people to come through and do this.”

Jess Brown is the wellness coordinator for the city and hospital. She was at the pop-up clinic helping patients schedule their follow-up appointments. 

“It’s been really exciting to get some shots in arms,” Brown said. “I’ve had people come in and they are actually in tears because they are just so grateful and so ready to be past this whole last year.” 

Photo of COVID-19 vaccines
Two churches hosted pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics on Monday, April 26. (Photo by Bridget Dowd / KTOO)

She said public health is all about meeting people where they’re at.

“Not everyone feels comfortable in different locations and so we might have a group that just feels more secure and comfortable getting it here,” Brown said. “It feels like a more trusted process.”

Kyle Asai-Lau received his first shot at the church and said it gives him peace of mind.  

“I did grow up with asthma so I know I was a high-risk patient,” Asai-Lau said. “So getting the vaccination, just makes myself safer along with the people I live with.”

And for those still worried about getting the shot, he said “just go for it!”

Editor’s note: The headline for this story has been updated to clarify that 61% of eligible residents have been vaccinated, not 61% of the total population.

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