October 20, 2005
"The time is now for Alaskans to be vaccinated against the flu, especially those at greatest risk to develop serious complications - the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions," Governor Murkowski said. "We're targeting now those individuals who live with or care for those at high risk - health care workers who provide direct patient care, parents, siblings, and child care providers of infants less than 6 months of age."
This season's flu vaccine provides protection against three different strains of the influenza virus including the most frequently reported influenza A (H3N2) virus. The Division of Public Health has distributed over 100,000 doses of flu vaccine to public and private providers across the state and does not expect any vaccine distribution delays this year. Some private Alaska medical providers also purchased additional flu vaccine for their patients.
"The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated every fall," Commissioner Jackson said. "Flu activity usually peaks in December or January, sometimes as late as March. The ideal time to get a flu vaccination is October or November."
Health clinics are initially targeting the vaccine to persons at highest risk for complications from influenza. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for high risk persons include those who are 65 years and older; residents of long-term care facilities; people 2 years to 64 years old with chronic health conditions; children 6 months to 23 months old; pregnant women; health care personnel who provide direct patient care; and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age. Starting Oct. 24, all persons, including previously targeted individuals, who want to receive a flu vaccination are eligible.
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