DHSS Offers Waivers for Immunization Fees in August
August is National immunization Awareness Month. State public health centers, the Municipality of Anchorage and Maniilaq Association will waive all immunization administration fees for state-provided vaccines during the month.
National Immunization Awareness Month is an attempt to focus on the value of immunization during a life time while celebrating the achievements of immunization programs.
Acting Chief of the Section of Public of Health Nursing for the State of Alaska Linda Worman says there are several groups of people that qualify for the waivers.
“Any children under the age of three, any Alaskan without health insurance, those who have insurance however their insurance doesn’t cover vaccines, for people that have insurance but they do not know if their insurance covers vaccines, those who have not yet met their deductible or those who live in remote areas of Alaska and have no other access to vaccines except through public health nursing.”
An administration fee is just the storage and handling of the vaccines. The actual cost of the drugs is paid for by the State of Alaska. Worman says the public health nursing centers receive their vaccines from the state because their resources are pooled.
The administration fees usually cost around $28 but this August that fee is waived for some Alaskans. However, that cost can change depending on the vaccines and when they are received.
“What we do is there is an initial fee of about $28 for the first vaccine, and then any subsequent vaccine for some little children they may have four or five due in one visit, there is a lesser amount.”
Worman says the vaccines available are varied. Everything from tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis to pneumonia, shingles and chicken pox. She says the doses vary based on the age of the patient.
These vaccines are important, Worman says, because they help keep the community at large healthy.
“And we know when anyone in a group is protected they are contributing to the health of their community because their immune system is a little stronger to resist diseases so they stay healthier. So if they are around children or adults that might be compromised in their health for a variety of reasons, then they will be less likely to bring disease into their circle that they live in.”
Worman says although flu season is coming up, she’s doubtful that health centers will have the vaccine available during August. She believes August was chosen for vaccine awareness because it’s the month kids are getting ready for school.
“And so it’s an ideal time to go ahead and encourage families to think about the immunization status of everybody in the family and go ahead and get everybody caught up because some of these immunizations go by age. So it’s appropriate that if you have a child that’s seven, eight, nine years old you might not be thinking immunizations.”
For more information on the different vaccines offered and a list of local public health centers, visit the Department of Health and Social Services website at www.dhss.alaska.gov.