Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004

State will distribute more flu shots

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said that it will distribute an additional 24,000 flu vaccine doses it recently received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most providers have not received this vaccine, but it should be available to Alaskans within the next two weeks.

Additional doses are expected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the next few weeks.

Although this additional vaccine will help to meet the needs of high-risk populations in Alaska, it will still not be enough to allow vaccination of non high-risk people.

Health providers are required to vaccinate persons 65 years of age and older, persons of any age with chronic health conditions such as diabetes and asthma or with weakened immune systems, residents of nursing homes and long term care facilities, children 6 months through 23 months of age, women who will be pregnant during the influenza season, health care workers involved in direct patient care and out-of-home caregivers of infants younger than 6 months of age.

The state originally ordered 100,000 doses, but received 60,000 due to the nationwide flu vaccine shortage.

"Some persons who should be vaccinated have not requested the shot because they are confused by the categories or they think that someone else is at greater risk," said Laurel Wood, Division of Public Health Immunization program manager. "All persons on the high risk listing should be vaccinated, if vaccine is available."

Epidemiologists with the Division of Public Health are also encouraging people to take several simple precautions to help guard against getting or transmitting the flu. The procedures include covering one's mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently and thoroughly. If one has flu-like symptoms, one should stay home to avoid infecting others.

SEACC, conservation groups sue Tongass

JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and five other conservation and Native groups are suing the Tongass National Forest to stop a 19.5 million-board-foot timber sale on northeast Kuiu Island.

The Threemile timber sale is in a roadless area and is "a classic example of the kind of logging that doesn't make sense for the Tongass," said SEACC conservation director Buck Lindekugel in a prepared statement.

Kent Cummins, a Tongass National Forest spokesman, said the Threemile project could generate up to 86 jobs. "This sustainable timber harvest project will help our local, family-run mills keep operating and create jobs," he said.

The suit was filed in federal district court with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Center for Biological Diversity and the organized village of Kake.

The area of the sale is a traditional use area for the village. "Kuiu is the heart of our traditional lands," said Scott Jackson, a Kake hunter, in a prepared statement.

The suit follows a recent ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowing an emergency injunction to block the Orion North timber sale, on Revillagigedo Island. In its ruling in SEACC's appeal, the majority of appellate judges agreed with SEACC's claim that the Forest Service overestimated market demand for Tongass timber.

The court ruled that it was more important to review the project than allow the sale to proceed.

Henry tapped to replace judge

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage's first female prosecutor has been named as the temporary replacement of Judge Sam Adams, who died while on a hunting trip in September.

Assistant district attorney Mary Anne Henry, 53, has resigned from the Anchorage district attorney's office effective Nov. 17. She will fill in as temporary District Court judge until Gov. Frank Murkowski appoints a successor to Adams, according to the office of presiding Judge Dan Hensley.

The Alaska Judicial Council is evaluating applicants for Adams' seat.

Henry was a 25-year-old Harvard graduate in 1976 when then-Attorney General Av Gross hired her for the Anchorage office.

Over the past 28 years, Henry worked under seven district attorneys and served as acting Anchorage district attorney herself in 1990-91.

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