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Alaska becomes 1st state to remove eligibility requirements for COVID-19 vaccine

Officials in Alaska shared some good news on Tuesday evening, announcing that anyone 16 and older who lives or works in the state is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Alaska is the first state to drop eligibility requirements for the vaccine, giving access to all. Previously, health care workers, educators, and senior citizens were given top priority, followed by people who work essential jobs, those at risk for developing a serious illness from COVID-19, and anyone 55 or older.

"Soon, this virus will be a preventable disease if people choose to get vaccinated," Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska's chief medical officer, said. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), who tested positive for COVID-19 last month, told reporters he believes "we'll get enough Alaskans that want to be part of this process that we're going to put this behind us as quickly as possible."

Alaska has the country's highest COVID-19 vaccination rate, with 25 percent of the population at least partially vaccinated, compared to the national average of 18 percent, the Anchorage Daily News reports.