All individuals 16 and older who live or work in Alaska are now eligible to receive the vaccine, Gov. Mike Dunleavy said on Tuesday evening, making it the first state to allow all of its residents access to the vaccine.
Alaska has fully vaccinated 16 percent of its population, the highest in the country, according to a New York Times database.
“If Alaskans had any questions about vaccine eligibility and criteria, I hope today’s announcement clears it up for you,” said Adam Crum, the commissioner of the state health department. “Simply put, you are eligible to get the vaccine.”
Mr. Dunleavy encouraged all “Alaskans that are thinking about” getting vaccinated to do so, adding that the vaccine “gives us the ability now in Alaska to far outpace other states.”
The announcement in Alaska came as other states are rapidly expanding access to vaccines, with New York and Minnesota announcing Tuesday they would grant eligibility to wide swathes of their populations.
The pace of vaccinations in the United States has continued to accelerate, with about 2.15 million doses being given daily, according to a New York Times database. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that about 61.1 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, including about 32.1 million people who have been fully vaccinated by Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine or the two-dose series made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Some parts of Alaska have reached 90 percent vaccination rates among seniors, the governor said in a statement. In the Nome Census Area, over 60 percent of residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.
“We want to get our economy back up and running. We want to get our society back up and running,” Mr. Dunleavy said. “We want to put this virus behind us — as far as possible, as soon as possible.”
The Pfizer vaccine is available to individuals 16 and older in Alaska, the governor said, while the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are available to people 18 and older.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Tuesday that his state will lower its age threshold for Covid-19 vaccine eligibility beginning on Wednesday, allowing anyone older than 60 to be inoculated.
New York State is also opening vaccination eligibility next week to a large number of public-facing workers, including government employees, nonprofit workers and essential building services workers. Those people can begin to get vaccinated on March 17.
New York will join a handful of other U.S. states that allow vaccinations for all people over 60; the majority have set their minimum age eligibility requirement at 65 years old.
Mr. Cuomo, in an appearance in Syracuse, pointed to expected increases in supply from the federal government as the reason behind expanding vaccine eligibility.
Among the workers eligible to get vaccinated next week are public works employees, social service and child service caseworkers, government inspectors, sanitation workers, election workers, Department of Motor Vehicle employees and county clerks.
Appointments will open for people over 60 years old starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Mr. Cuomo said. People over 65 became eligible for a vaccine in January.
Elsewhere, Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota announced Tuesday that the state would expand eligibility to more than 1.8 million Minnesotans this week, including essential workers in industries like food service and public transit, and people 45 and older with at least one underlying medical condition. The announcement is “weeks ahead of schedule,” the governor said in a statement, as the state is set to reach its goal of vaccinating 70 percent of Minnesotans 65 and older this week.
In Ohio, residents 50 and older, as well as people with certain medical conditions who had not yet been eligible, will be eligible to receive a vaccine this week, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Monday. And Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina announced Monday that residents 55 and older, those 16 and older with high-risk medical conditions and some frontline workers were eligible.