Health Report: Mobilizing vaccine efforts could help Fairbanks succeed in ‘Sleeves Up’ state campaign

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:18 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As part of the State of Alaska’s ‘Sleeves Up For Summer’ campaign, Fairbanks may be able to reach its goals by mobilizing vaccination efforts.

According to Mark Simon, an emergency physician with the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Fairbanks has its own challenges to face in meeting vaccination goals. Simon explained, “I think our 25% goal is 18,000 vaccinations we’re looking to improve on in the Interior - and yeah, that’s a big number. At some of the Carlson Center events we’ve done 2,000 patients but we’re not reaching that number currently, and so even if we reached 2,000 a week, that would still only be 8,000.”

Simon explained that a mobile vaccination effort would go a long way to reaching that 18,000 goal. “I think what we most need now is a more mobile process. A lot of the people who are interested, and it’s really a priority for them to get vaccinated, have already done that. Now we’re looking to reach that group that is still interested in getting vaccinated, but they’re working, they’re busy with family, they just have other priorities and can’t maybe make it to the Carlson Center or to see Dr. Cox at the Fairbanks Cancer Care Physicians, or Dr. Lessner’s team at Chena Health, or TCC, or one of the pharmacies. We think it really makes sense to have a mobile process by which we can bring vaccines to businesses, to churches, to community events.”

Fairbanks has already begun bringing vaccines to community events including hosting a clinic at both the Regal Cinemas grand reopening on May 7th and the Ice Dogs game on May 8th.

This is all in contribution to the State of Alaska’s ‘Sleeves Up For Summer’ campaign which has the goal of increasing vaccination rates before the end of May according to Tessa Walker-Linderman, Nurse Consultant for the State of Alaska and Head of the Sleeve Up campaign. Walker-Linderman explained, “Really our goal is to increase vaccination rates by 25%. So, that’s a statewide goal, but also we’re looking at that by borough and census level as well. Some areas have higher vaccination rates than others, but really across the board we’re looking at if each community could increase their vaccination rates by 25%. So we’ll be partnering with local governments and business leaders, chambers, and just trying to bring new energy to the vaccination campaign. [Also] really recognizing that lots of tourists are coming into Alaska this summer, [and] Alaskans are ready to get out and enjoy the summer - so trying to get as many Alaskans vaccinated before all that happens.”

Progress for the campaign can be followed on the DHSS website. Currently Alaska is sitting at around 17,737 vaccinations out of its 141,538 statewide goal.

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