State Of Alaska Explains Covid Options: Testing, People Who Are Immunocompromised, & More

  Tests, Treatments, Boosters and More: A Quick COVID-19 Guide for Alaskans  Recently you may have noticed that the COVID-19 testing, treatm...

 

Tests, Treatments, Boosters and More: A Quick COVID-19 Guide for Alaskans 

Recently you may have noticed that the COVID-19 testing, treatment or vaccine sites you have used before may no longer be operating. Federal funding for some of these services is winding down, as are some state and local contracts that depended on that funding. Please don't be deterred by these changes. Testing, vaccines and medications are still available, but how you access those services may look different now.

Alaskans can continue to find the COVID-19 resources they need to stay healthy. Here is some general information we hope will be helpful during this time of transition.

In this guide:

A woman takes a COVID-19 test at home.

Testing

Where can I get tested?

At-home tests are a reliable first choice for getting tested. At-home tests give fast results, can be taken anywhere and are widely available. It is helpful to have a few of these tests in your home so they are available as soon as you need one. For the most accurate results, follow the test instructions closely.

Laboratory tests are still available at many pharmacies, health care offices, urgent cares, private testing sites and at some schools or community testing sites.

Here are some testing programs to know about:

  • Order free at-home tests online or call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).
  • Get tested for free at a federally-sponsored Community-Based Test Site.
  • Free at-home tests may be available locally from your city or borough government, tribal health organization, Public Health Nursing or federally qualified health centers.
  • At-home tests can be purchased at stores, pharmacies, or online. (Note: you may be able to get reimbursed for the costs of these tests through your health insurance or through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.)

If you have COVID-19 symptoms and cannot find testing, stay home. Even if you don’t have COVID, staying home when you’re sick protects other people from getting sick.

When should I get tested?

  1. Test immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  2. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 but do not have symptoms, test 5 days after the exposure.
  3. Certain businesses, workplaces, schools, organizations or events may require testing for screening purposes.
  4. Testing may be required or recommended before and/or after travel. Check local regulations before you travel. See the CDC’s latest travel guidance.
  5. A health care professional may ask you to get tested in certain situations.

What if I test positive?

No matter what kind of COVID-19 test you take, a positive test result is very reliable evidence that you are infected with COVID-19. If you test positive, isolate yourself to prevent spreading the virus to others, and talk to your doctor as soon as possible to see if COVID-19 medications are right for you.

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One hand holds two pills while the other holds a glass of water.

Medications

Medications that fight COVID-19 are widely available at clinics, doctors’ offices and pharmacies in nearly every community in Alaska. Most Alaskans are eligible for these medications, which are highly effective at reducing the risk of hospitalization.

People eligible for treatment include:

  • Everyone age 50 years or older
  • Those who are unvaccinated or not up to date on vaccines
  • Alaskans of any age with at least one risk factor: overweight/obesity, current/former smoker, pregnancy, diabetes, mental health conditions, asthma and other conditions (complete list here)

COVID-19 medications, which include antiviral pills you can take at home, are effective at reducing the risk of severe illness regardless of whether a person is vaccinated. They require a prescription, and they work best if they are taken very soon after symptoms start or after a person receives a positive COVID test.

As soon as you get COVID, don't wait until you get worse: talk to a health care provider about treatment options. If you don't have a health care provider, alternatives include telehealth, urgent care clinics, some pharmacies, and public health centers.

For more information about COVID-19 medications, go to covidrx.alaska.gov, or call the Alaska COVID Helpline at 907-646-3322 (open Monday through Friday). The Helpline can also help connect you to resources if you don't have a health care provider.

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A man receives a vaccine from a doctor.

Vaccines

One of the best things you can do to stay healthy and protected against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and stay up to date on all vaccinations. This CDC tool can help you figure out when you can get your next booster shot.

While immunity from COVID vaccines and natural infection wanes over time, studies show that COVID vaccines continue to protect people against severe illness and death, even over the long term. Studies have also shown that those who are up to date on COVID vaccinations are better protected.

COVID vaccines are available for free at most pharmacies and health care providers' offices in Alaska. For help scheduling your vaccination, go to covidvax.alaska.govvaccines.gov or call the Alaska COVID Helpline at 907-646-3322 (open Monday through Friday).

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Two people sit on the tailgate of a truck enjoying the outdoors with their dog.

Layered Protection

Layering protective measures, including vaccinationmaskingventilationhandwashing, physical distancing, testing and timely treatment help reduce the impact of COVID-19.

Continue to be mindful of those around you when you gather with others, especially if COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in your community. You can lower your chances of getting infected if you can avoid indoor crowds. Meeting a friend? Consider doing something outdoors if you can.

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An older woman and a younger woman go for a walk together at sunset.

If You Are Immunocompromised

Alaskans with compromised immune systems can get added protection against COVID-19. If you're moderately or severely immunocompromised, talk to a health care provider about your options. For general questions, call the Alaska COVID Helpline at 907-646-3322 (open Monday through Friday).

Vaccines

Currently, people age 5 years and older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should get an extra shot in their primary series, then get a booster shot. For those age 12 and older, a second booster dose is available 4 months after the first booster. Find more information at covidvax.alaska.gov.

Evusheld

Some immunocompromised Alaskans are eligible for Evusheld. Evusheld is a monoclonal antibody therapy that has been authorized as a prevention treatment for COVID-19. It is only authorized for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals 12 years or older weighing at least 88 pounds who are not currently infected with or recently exposed to COVID-19, or for individuals who cannot be fully vaccinated with any available COVID-19 vaccines. Evusheld is not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination in individuals for whom vaccination is recommended.

High-Quality Masks

Well-fitting, high-filtration masks provide both personal protection and protection to others against COVID-19 infection.

N95 or KN95 masks offer the greatest benefit in situations where the risk of transmission is high, such as during times when case rates are high, in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, in crowded areas and in high-risk congregate settings.

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Two hands form a heart shape with a winter sunrise in the background.

If You Have Long COVID

Long COVID describes a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience weeks or months after first being infected with COVID-19. Common long COVID conditions include persistent fatigue, "brain fog," heart palpitations, coughing and shortness of breath.

Long COVID can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Find resources for workersemployersyouth and policymakers from the U.S. Department of Labor.

If you are suffering from long COVID, talk to a health care provider about your symptoms. Health care providers and patients are encouraged to set achievable goals through shared decisions, focusing on specific symptoms or conditions.

If you have a child with long COVID, it may be helpful to discuss accommodations with your child’s school, such as extra time on tests, scheduled rest periods throughout the day or a modified class schedule.

Our understanding of long COVID remains incomplete, and treatment guidance will likely change over time as the evidence evolves.


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