Alaska becomes first state to allow COVID-19 vaccination residents 16 and older

Only the Pfizer vaccine is FDA approved for those 16 and older.

Vaccine eligibility in Alaska will is now being extended to anyone16 and older, marking the first time a U.S. state has allowed  an adolescents to receive the injection.

The state has removed nearly all eligibility requirements because vaccination of the vulnerable population has been successful.

While the Pfizer vaccine will be available to anyone 16 and older, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will remain off limits for anyone under 18.

Vaccine trials on children are just getting underway for the pharmaceutical companies. But the Food and Drug Administration has approved the Pfizer variation for patients age 16 and up even as it remains authorized as an emergency use drug.

"Soon this virus will be a preventable disease, if people choose to get vaccinated," said Dr. Anne Zink from Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services said Tuesday. "This is our shot to end the pandemic."

Alaska has roughly 730,000 residents and over 16% of them have already been fully vaccinated. That's one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

Before expanding the vaccination program to adolescents, it was limited to essential workers, those living in multigenerational housing and young people who accompanied a senior to their vaccination appointment. 

Zink expects vaccine appointments to fill up quickly, but said more doses will become available as the state receives it monthly allotment.