The state is offering the chance for students to get caught up on their vaccines before the school year starts.
Vaccines are being offered at public health centers across the state, and the usual administrative fee of about $28 is being waived during National Immunization Awareness Month in August. The Municipality of Anchorage's public health immunization clinic and the Maniilaq Association's nursing services program in the Northwest Arctic Borough are also taking part in the August waiver.
People of all ages can use the waivers to get up to date with their vaccines. The waiver applies to eligible Alaskans, including children under age 3 and individuals without health insurance.
“When families come in, we really encourage parents to check that their immunizations up to date,” said Linda Worman, acting head of the Public Health Nursing Section at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “That also helps our community to keep a healthy community.”
Individual vaccine costs, ranging from $15 to $200, are being covered by federal and state grants; Worman says a conservative estimate of costs to the state from the waiver comes in at under $6,000, but DHSS doesn't mind paying more to immunize more Alaskans. The only thing residents will pay for if they come in is the office visit, and that's on a sliding scale based on ability to pay, with nobody turned away for inability to pay.
Vaccines available for younger children include diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A and B, measles/mumps/rubella and chicken pox. Adults can receive a composite vaccine called Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis/whooping cough, pneumococcal vaccine which targets bacteria associated with pneumonia, and the shingles vaccine.
Worman says appointments can be scheduled by calling local state public health centers, a list of which is available on the DHSS website. She encourages residents of rural Alaska to call their nearest center, since vaccinations are also available from traveling nurses or by appointment on future visits to towns with health centers.
KTUU's Chris Klint and Reba Lean contributed information to this story