Flu shots are still available in Alaska

Health officials distributing 90,000 doses of vaccine

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's not too late to get a flu shot, state health officials reminded Alaskans this week.

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"Last year's flu season didn't peak until March," said state Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Karleen Jackson. "So it still makes sense to get a flu vaccination before we start the busy holiday season."

The department began distributing more than 90,000 doses of flu vaccine across the state in September, and there is still plenty of vaccine available.

"I've seen nothing that indicates we have a shortage," nurse manager Kate Slotnick, with the Juneau Public Health Center, said Tuesday.

Where to go

Juneau Public Health Center:

• Where: 3412 Glacier Highway, near Twin Lakes.

• Cost: $24 for adults; children are free. Sliding scale available.

• For appointments: 465-3353.

Safeway:

• Where: 3033 Vintage Blvd.

• Cost: $28.

• For appointments: 523-2060.

Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium:

• Where: 3200 Hospital Drive at Salmon Lane.

• Cost: Free to Native beneficiaries.

• Clinic: Dec. 13, 8:30-11 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Shots available additional days.

• For appointments: 463-4040.

Influenza season in Alaska generally begins around the first of the year, Slotnick said. But once receiving the vaccine, it takes about two weeks to develop immunity against influenza viruses represented in it.

"This is the time of year when college kids come back to Juneau and people start traveling, so it's also a time to think about getting that flu shot," Slotnick said.

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against contracting the flu, state officials said. The influenza virus is a contagious respiratory illness and sometimes carries life-threatening complications.

About 36,000 people die annually after contracting the flu in the United States. More than 200,000 are hospitalized. People at high risk for developing complications include children between 6 months and 5 years; people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and compromised immune systems; those 50 years old and older; and pregnant women.

Health-care workers and those who live with or care for people in the high-risk groups also should be vaccinated, the state recommends.

Children under 6 months old should not be vaccinated.

The virus is transmitted through respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. Studies show that adults are contagious one day before and three to five days after developing symptoms, which include fever, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Other symptoms that are much more common in children than adults include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Besides contacting one's doctor or going to a local clinic that offers the vaccine, one can call the Alaska Immunization Hotline at (888) 430-4321.

• Contact Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or kimberly.marquis@juneauempire.com.



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