FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nome, Alaska – A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 has been identified in the region. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services notified Norton Sound Health Corporation that three individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in Nome earlier this month had cases of the P.1 variant.
The P.1 variant is a strain of the COVID-19 virus that was first discovered in Japan in travelers from Brazil. The variant wreaked havoc across Brazil and Latin America earlier this year. The strain is 60% more easily spread than the original virus, and it has a mutation that allows it to potentially evade immunity.
Norton Sound Health Corporation feels it is urgent for those who are eligible and have not yet gotten vaccinated to get in as early as possible to do so. The state’s public health experts say it is especially important to get communities to a high level of vaccination to combat this variant’s spread. Forty-two percent of the region’s total population remains unvaccinated.
The current COVID-19 vaccines have proven effective against this strain of virus, especially the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna. And, it appears the mRNA vaccines give you better immunity against the P.1 variant than natural immunity from a previous COVID-19 infection. There have been some individuals who have had COVID-19 who have expressed they won’t get vaccinated because of their natural immunity. The P.1 variant is a reason for those people to get vaccinated, so they and their community can be better protected. Those who are currently fully vaccinated are considered quite well protected.
The State of Alaska continues to watch for these variants because of their contagiousness and their ability to evade immunity. Each positive case is tested for the different strains. The region’s three cases are among 15 total P.1 variant cases in the state.
Everyone in the region who is 12 years and older is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. In a village, residents may contact their local clinic to arrange a vaccination. In Nome, vaccinations are available at the following places and times:
- Nome NSHC Pharmacy: walk in Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m. Appointments are available Monday-Saturday at picktime.com/NSHC.
- Nome airport: Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are offered to all incoming passengers 12 years and older.
- Nome post office: Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are available Monday-Friday 12-5 p.m.