Alaska becomes first US state to drop vaccine eligibility rules

Washington, March 10 (AFP/APP): Alaska has become the first US state to drop vaccine eligibility rules, opening the shots up to anyone aged 16 or older who lives or works there.

One of the country’s poorest states, Alaska nevertheless leads the country in the proportion of its population that has received two doses of vaccine, at about 25 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regions including Kodiak Island are nearing or exceeding 90 percent vaccination rates among seniors, the governor’s office said in a statement.

And in the Nome area, over 60 percent of residents of age 16 and over have received at least one shot, and roughly 291,000 doses have been administered statewide. “This historic step is yet another nationwide first for Alaska, but it should come as no surprise,” Governor Mike Dunleavy said Tuesday in announcing the dropping of eligibility requirements.

“Since day one, your response to the pandemic has been hands-down the best in the nation,” he added. US states are scrambling to vaccinate more age groups and categories of workers as America grapples with the world’s worst pandemic case load, with total deaths at more than 520,000. An average of 2.2 million people per day were vaccinated last week, according to the White House.

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