The Alaska Department of Health started to distribute influenza vaccines throughout the state. The state has ordered 90,000 doses and more than two thirds are designated for children and adolescents. This year’s vaccine includes protection against three major flu strains, including the H1N1-strain. This means that only one vaccination is needed for protection against the common flu and the swine flu.
This year, for the first time, it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older get an annual flu vaccine. Department of Health officials say that last year the federal government paid for all of the vaccinations and in Alaska, the Department of Health was the only source for any health care provider to obtain the vaccines. This year, the state had to pay for the doses and providers can get their vaccines from their suppliers. That means that the providers may charge people the vaccination cost plus an administrative fee. However, the state is not charging for children vaccinations.
The Mat-Su Public Health Center has received 360 doses and by the end of the week is slated to receive 400 more. The vaccines will be distributed to the 27 health centers in the valley, including the Sunshine Community Health Clinics.
The Sunshine Clinics have already received 200 doses from an independent supplier and they ask people to give the clinic a call and make an appointment to receive the flu shot.
School nurse Barbara Mercer said that as soon as vaccines become available through public health she will offer free vaccinations to students of Trapper Creek Elementary, Talkeetna Elementary and Su Valley High School. The vaccines are only administered with parental consent.