Alaska’s Offering Free COVID-19 Vaccinations to Tourists
Starting June 1, any tourist visiting Alaska will be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine, the state’s governor announced.
Part of an comprehensive effort to reinvigorate the state’s post-pandemic travel industry, the campaign will kick off with vaccine distribution sites set up directly outside the security checkpoints of Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, and Ketchikan airports, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said during a press conference last Friday.
“The idea is if we have excess vaccines, why not use them?” Dunleavy said. “You want a shot? You come to Alaska, you get a shot.”
Either the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will be made available, according to the report, with a “soft-rollout” of the program expected to be tested at the end of this month on Alaskans at the Anchorage airport, the Associated Press reported.
Those receiving their first dose in Alaska can get their second round elsewhere if the period of travel is shorter than the standard vaccination window specific to each vaccine.
The first state to ditch restrictions on vaccination eligibility, Alaska is currently reporting that about 40 percent of its residents have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the state health department.
With ample vaccine availability, officials are hoping to see that number climb.
The tourism push will also include an expansive multi-platform advertising effort, which Dunleavy believes will help drive tourism back to the hard-hit businesses and communities that depend heavily on the economic boost provided by the region’s immensely popular cruises, an aspect of tourism tightly restricted by COVID-related shutdowns.
Alaska has also dropped a previous policy requiring tourists to test for COVID-19 prior to visiting.
“This is the time we want them to enjoy this magical place,” Dunleavy said.
“We want to make sure they don’t forget about Alaska. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of beautiful states down in the lower 48, but this is a spectacular state. That’s the only way we can describe it.”