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White Mountain Leads Regional Vaccinations

A photo of the village of White Mountain.

As the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the Norton Sound slowly climbs some communities are seeing the majority of eligible adults get the first dose of the vaccine. White Mountain, a community of about 200, leads the Norton Sound region in vaccination rates. 

“[They have] an estimated 89% of first doses. Outstanding!”

– Dr. Mark Peterson, Medical Director for Norton Sound Regional Hospital

In a Monday morning phone call with local leaders, Dr. Mark Peterson shared that other communities are also demonstrating high vaccination rates. Wales, Golovin, and Savoonga all trail close behind White Mountain: while many communities like Little Diomede, Koyuk, Teller, Unalakleet, and Shishmaref have still seen over half of their adult residents take the first dose of vaccine. 

In Nome, Peterson says about 65% of adults have taken the first dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. 

“So those are the percentages and they’re climbing in some villages. We continue to get lists and get people on the lists and get them vaccinated. We’re just slowly making progress.”

Those numbers are only for vaccinated adults, not the total population. The population of the Norton Sound region is quite young and the only approved vaccines in the U.S., Moderna and Pfizer, are approved for ages 16 and older. According to estimates from the U.S. Census, around 44% of the region covered by the Norton Sound Health Corporation is under the age of 18. Anyone over 16 in the Norton Sound region is eligible and encouraged to get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Some communities are showing lower numbers, like Stebbins — one of the region’s larger villages at over 600 people. Stebbins is without running sewer and water, making it particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Earlier this year the community battled an outbreak of the virus, successfully avoiding any deaths or hospitalizations.

Peterson says teams will be going to Stebbins and other villages soon to administer more vaccines. 

“So we can get them a little more focused and get their numbers up.”

NSHC reports that around 44% of the total population, including people under 16, has been vaccinated. In Nome, appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine can be made at www.picktime.com/nshc or by walk-in at the pharmacy. In the regional villages, residents can contact their clinic for availability.  

Image at Top: The village of White Mountain, as seen from the top of White Mountain Hill. KNOM, 2020.

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