Alaska Will Offer Vaccines On Arrival At 5 Airports To Promote Tourism

The Maldives is planning to offer vaccines on arrival to promote tourism. That’s great for wealthy travelers from countries that are lagging the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere in vaccination. I’m not sure how India, which is providing most of their shots, will feel about it.

But did you know that Alaska is planning to offer vaccination for tourists on arrival at the airport starting June 1?

The program will run outside of security at Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau and Ketchikan airports and they’ll even run a trial program for the state’s residents in Anchorage for five days at the end of April from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

[Governor] Dunleavy, a Republican, outlined plans for a national marketing campaign aimed at luring tourists using federal aid money and said the vaccine offering is “probably another good reason to come to the state of Alaska in the summer.”

There are (6) key takeaways about how this may help both Alaska – and the world.

  1. Most Americans who want a vaccine will already have had one by June 1. In Austin we’re having a hard time filling available 1st dose appointments. (Over half of adults have already had a first shot.)

  2. This does make it easier to travel to Alaska rather than being confined to home for a second shot, if they make second doses available this way. In other words, you don’t need to wait until you’re ‘fully vaccinated’ under this plan to travel to Alaska.

    The state even is hoping for unvaccinated Americans to come, get their first dose, and get the second shot at home (“if travelers are not still in Alaska when it’s time for their second dose, they can follow-up at a clinic or with their provider when they return home”).

    Make of that what you will, but since by June 1 everyone who has wanted a vaccine will have been able to get one, Alaskans will be generally protected and there shouldn’t be overcrowding risk for the state’s hospitals.

  3. The vaccination program could be attractive to foreign tourists. As with the Maldives program (but without the high-end expense of water villas!) this could be a boon to international arrivals just as peak tourism season hits Alaska, because who wants to go there in the winter?

  4. Vaccinating foreign tourists is in America’s interest. Some may be concerned about using taxpayer-financed vaccines, and federal marketing dollars, to vaccinate non-citizens but that is actually one of the best strategies to protect Americans from the virus.

    As economist Alex Tabarrok explained in congressional testimony, getting the world vaccinated quickly is how we’ll limit the virus from mutating around vaccines, and prevent travelers from bringing mutations to the U.S.

    The unvaccinated are the biggest risk for generating mutations and new variants. You have heard of the South Africa and Brazilian variants, well the best way to protect your constituents from these and other variants is to vaccinate South Africans and Brazilians.

  5. Could this be an implicit rollout of ‘first doses first’? The U.K. has delayed second doses of vaccine in order to get some protection for as many people as possible, and that’s served them well. The U.S. has preferred to offer marginal additional protection to the same people who are already mostly protected, rather than getting everyone vaccinated quickly.

    However since the U.S. is only currently using the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – and these are explicitly what Alaska plans to use at the airport – full vaccination would mean being in Alaska for the first shot and then three (Pfizer) or four (Moderna) weeks later for a second. Most people won’t stay that long, but doses could be stretched across more tourists that way. The FDA would never approve, but it could work as dose-stretching to do as much for the rest of the world as possible

    By the way a first shot of the two mRNA vaccines appear to provide protection similar to a one-dose regiment of Johnson & Johnson.

  6. A backdoor way to promote foreign policy the Biden administration can’t do overtly. The U.S. has stockpiled AstraZeneca vaccines in the tens of millions, and has only shown a willingness to release a small number of doses to other countries even though the vaccine isn’t approved here, may not be approved here, and increasingly looks unnecessary as part of the strategy to vaccinate Americans.

    Instead states could use excess supply (albeit not AstraZeneca) to vaccinate foreigners, with the extra cost to them that they have to come here to get the shot. That’s bad for equity, since it means only wealthier foreigners who can travel will have access. But it’s better than hoarding.

Alaska could turn a negative – its climate in the winter – into a positive if this program continues, with a new slogan “our state is so cold we don’t need any extra refrigeration to make mRNA vaccines available to the world!”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And they should jail the employee that administers the injection and an executive or member of management from the airline for a year every time they give a vaccine to a foreign tourist that should be given to an American citizen. Once everyone in this country legally gets their turn, then they can start giving them to paying outsiders for a profit.

  2. I wouldn’t drive through Canada without having your first shot. BC is a hotbed of Covid-19.

  3. I like your new motto. The whole world needs to be vaccinated, so I support whatever makes it easier. They should set up walk-in clinics in every U.S. airport. I wish more of the Astra zeneca vaccine would be given away to other countries. I doesn’t look like that vaccine is ever going to be used in the U.S.

  4. Great idea, and I think it will be replicated elsewhere. Alaska will be eager to get tourists by air given that Canada and our own laws have shut down the cruise industry to there for who knows how long. I’m planning to go.

  5. @Ryan Waldron – alaska is only offering vaccines to arriving tourists after everyone in the state has had a chance to get a shot

  6. USVI is already offering this and has been for 2 months. The local population doesn’t want it apparently.

  7. I’m sorry, but the Alaska program is idiotic and is a complete waste of money. First, there will be no one in America who actually wants the vax in June who hasn’t gotten it already. It is also highly improbable that the few wealthy foreigners who make it to Alaska this summer will arrive unvaxed. Second, at least with Pfizer the evidence is now compelling that getting the first shot INCREASES your chances of getting Covid! Scientists aren’t sure why and, obviously, the gov’t and media don’t like to talk about this. It’s a couple of weeks after the second shot where the vax seems to work. So if you’re a nervous nelly, you definitely should be vaxed well before your vacation to Alaska.

  8. I would also note that a significant minority of people who get the Covid vaccines have significant side effects. I’m not talking about the really bad, but rare, side effects like blood clots. I’m talking chills, tiredness, headaches, etc. Do you really want to risk beginning your Alaskan vacation feeling bad? You should get vaccinated at home, and be encouraged to do so.

  9. “chills, tiredness, headaches etc…..”
    Really, @chopsticks?? Obviously you don’t bother with an annual flu vaccination.
    Any of those symptoms is a whole lot better than being dead wouldn’t you say?
    You should consider yourself fortunate you are able to get a top-class Pfizer or Moderna vaccination before June this year. You are very privileged whether you know it or not.
    Consider some other places (Australia) where the government is pushing the second-rate AstraZeneca vax as hard as it can, but with no certainty of even getting a shot this year!

  10. @ chopsticks – Are you actually this stupid?

    In case there is any doubt, the vaccines decrease your risk of getting COVID, not increase it.

    In a real world study conducted on frontline health care works, both mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) were 80% effective at stopping all COVID infection (both symptomatic and asymptomatic) two weeks after the first dose and 90% effective two weeks after the second dose.

  11. Maybe I am missing something, but doesn’t it take two weeks or so before vaccination is effective. What are you supposed to do for those two weeks?

  12. People like @chopsticks are the reason why 45% of Republicans (per recent polling) aren’t going to get the vaccination…peddling straight lies, which in turn get amplified on social media

  13. Chopsticks your analogy regarding the vaccine is rubbish ! and you don’t have to be wealthy to visit Alaska. I live in Anchorage and there are plenty of good deals right now. Also AK is leading the way in vaccinating it’s population. Anyone over 16 can get vaccinated with almost no wait times. We are way ahead of the curve so no it is not a waste of resources and you are not taking a vaccine away from our local citizens.

    PS: the comment regarding Republicans not getting the shot is ridiculous. Alaska is as red a state as they come.

  14. This is an excellent idea. USA has an excess of more than 200 Million vaccine doses by end of May; by that time, all Americans willing to get a vaccine (both the 1st and 2nd doses) will have one. With that many of excess doses, why not share with the world and at the same time promote tourism, improve employments, speed up the economy turnaround….WIN WIN WIN for USA, Canada and the World…
    My brother in Vancouver, Canada will be one flying to Alaska in June to get his 2nd Pfizer shot (as Canada will have Canadians wait for 4 months to get their 2nd shot, as Canada doesn’t have enough Vaccines for its’ citizens, they blame USA for hoarding all the vaccines…which in a way is true; can’t blame them…). He will then be staying in Alaska for a week and travel around… imagine 1000’s of Canadians flying to Alaska getting their 2nd dose and spending lots of $$$ to local Alaska economy, creating jobs… that’s actually a very good idea. I think other States, like California, Washington, etc… should replicate this strategy, as long as local residences can get both doses and there is an excess supply…. WIN WIN WIN

  15. Andrew: As I have told so many people online who are as full of it as you are, close your mouth if you have no idea what you are talking about. Less than half the population has had their first dose of a vaccine, only a quarter have had both. ( ) As I said before….until every american citizen has the doses they need, aliens should be turned away and any American that gives away a dose needed here should be jailed.

    Sorry that your country could not be bothered to create a medical system capable of delivering a vaccine to your citizens, that does not mean that ours should go without for you. We will gladly bail out the rest of the world as is usually the case, but only after our citizens are safe as it is with the sweat off of their backs that the vaccine was developed, made, and distributed.

    Our country needs to take care of it’s self so that we can then help others….that is the ONLY way it can work. If we allow ignorant bleeding heart simpletons like yourself to make these decisions for your own selfish reasons….the whole world will suffer for the next pandemic. If those capable of making the cure die out due to ignorance and stupidity….we are all doomed. It’s simple logic even though you will make it some emotional saga to suit your self I’m sure.

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