Alaskan village bans unvaccinated people from in-person shopping
04/27/2021 // News Editors // Views

Kongiganak, a village of fewer than 500 people in Alaska, is requiring inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are Native Americans, to be fully vaccinated to be eligible for any in-person shopping.

(Article by Victoria Gisondi republished from

According to the AP, over a third of Kongiganak residents have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus and two have died from (or with) it. But it is unclear how many of those who supposedly contracted the virus had symptoms or if they were severe.

Sheila Phillip, the Kongiganak Traditional Council secretary, said, “people who are fully vaccinated can go inside the village's two stores if they wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.”

People who have not received experimental coronavirus shots, however, “can still make phone orders and their orders are delivered to their home,” Phillip said.

Harvey Paul, general manager for Qemirtalek Coast Corporation, which sells groceries, allows only four people at a time into his store. Paul explained that a list is provided by the tribe with names of vaccinated people. Those entering the store need to be on the list to be allowed to shop.

“Every couple of days, they’ll give us a new list,” Paul said. “The list keeps getting bigger and bigger. That is a good sign, you know?” Paul believes forcing people to be vaccinated in order to buy food and other goods in-person is a good thing.

“It gives them the incentive, ‘Hey look, I better get vaccinated too so I can go to the store,’” Paul said. “The best way to curb this virus is to get vaccinated.”

Nearby stores in the Bethel and other Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages allow non-vaccinated shoppers to enter the store. However, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center is also practicing segregation. It reopened on March 1, but only to fully vaccinated individuals.

Fitness Center Facility Director Stacey Reardon explained in an interview with KYUK Public Media the plans for verifying vaccinated individuals: “At check in, everybody needs to show their CDC vaccination card and a photo ID.”

However, a building full of vaccinated-only people does not mean masks are optional. Reardon said, “Everybody needs to wear masks all the time. And there [are] only two exceptions to that: while swimming and while showering.”

It is unclear if any exceptions will be made for pregnant women or people who are allergic to ingredients in the coronavirus vaccines, which are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration but have only been granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). It is also unclear if people who went into anaphylactic shock right after receiving the vaccine or had another severe reaction to it and thus did not receive a second dose will ever be permitted in the “vaccinated-only” stores.

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