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Alaska Flu Vaccine Supply Fluctuating
Questions and Answers about flu and flu vaccine on Public Health website


October 21, 2004

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health recently posted a question and answer sheet about flu and the flu vaccine on its Section of Epidemiology website. The document answers many questions that public and private health care providers are hearing from concerned Alaskans statewide.

Since the recent announcement that nearly half the country's flu vaccine for this season would not be arriving because of manufacturing problems, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines on the best use of available vaccine. Across the country health care providers are being asked to restrict flu vaccine to those most at risk of complications from influenza, such as persons 65 and older, babies six to 23 months old, anyone with chronic health conditions, and a few other groups. However, even with most vaccine providers complying with these guidelines, some areas are experiencing vaccine shortages.

According to acting DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Beth Funk, "Currently the [Alaska] Immunization Program has not developed a listing of locations with vaccine available. One of the difficulties of developing such a list is that a clinic that has vaccine available today may be out tomorrow. On the other hand, a clinic may receive new supplies today after having had no vaccine for a week. The best advice for high risk persons seeking flu vaccine is to check regularly with their regular healthcare provider and/or local public health center about vaccine availability."

"The CDC and Aventis, the vaccine manufacturer, have developed a plan to distribute almost 15 million doses of vaccine that had not yet been shipped. It is quite possible the Immunization Program will receive additional vaccine from this allotment. If and when additional vaccine is received, it will be shipped as quickly as possible to Alaska providers so they may vaccinate their high-risk patients," added Dr. Funk.

It is also important to remember that general good health habits can help prevent spread of the flu. These include:

  • Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Additional frequently asked questions and answers about influenza and the vaccine can be found at the Division of Public Health Section of Epidemiology web site.


Source of News Release:

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health
Web Site



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