Unalaska Gym Moonlights As Island's Pop-up Vaccination Clinic, Limiting Public Access
As more Unalaskans get vaccinated, city facilities are beginning to reopen to larger crowds of people, and the island's Community Center is no exception — with higher capacity limits now that the city is at its medium coronavirus risk threshold.
But the Community Center isn't just hosting patrons looking to hit the gym or work on an art project. As of late last month, the center has also been functioning as a major COVID-19 vaccination clinic for the island.
From Tuesday to Friday, anywhere between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Unalaska Department of Parks, Culture and Recreation's gym closes to the public and reopens as a pop-up vaccination clinic for Iliuliuk Family and Health Services and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, according to PCR Recreation Manager Albert Burnham.
During the clinics, Unalaskans are safely shuffled into the Community Center at six feet apart, administered vaccines by clinic staff, monitored for about 15 minutes, and sent on their way. After the clinic concludes for the day, Burnham said PCR staff then sanitize the facility for about 30 minutes.
Scheduling for the clinics has gotten smoother with time, said Burnham, but planning for them has been unpredictable.
"We don't always have control over when they come or even how much notice we can post that [informs people] that a vaccine clinic's happening, and the facility is going to be closed for these hours," he said.
Patrons still have to make reservations to use the gym and other facilities, so it can be especially frustrating when those appointments have to be cancelled for the clinics, Burnham said.
"It's another mark of our community that people are pretty understanding when that happens," he said. "And we're getting better at knowing what the schedule is and making sure that we don't book people when we shouldn't be booking them. People have been mostly enjoying the fact that we've got more spots available now that we’re at 'medium'."
Burnham estimates that these clinics will continue on a regular basis through March.
And with more vaccinated community members, he said PCR staff is looking forward to hopefully having some in-person events later this year.
"We're hoping to be able to have a summer playground program, to have our races in-person, and hopefully, some sort of Heart of the Aleutians community festival, keeping in mind that the regulations and things may change," Burnham said.
PCR staff is also planning a grand opening ceremony for the new school park — which will not be open to the public, but streamed on Facebook later this month — a possible Easter egg hunt, and the Missoula Children's Theatre program this spring.
Registration for the youth swim league is now open and after-school programs will reopen on Mar. 22, after spring break.
For more information on upcoming events and programming or how to register to use the facilities, visit the PCR's Facebook page.