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Department of Health Releases New Plan for Statewide Vaccines

Department of Health and Social Services

The State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services released a new bulletin this week in regards to the new vaccine assessment law.  This law was passed in the hopes of increasing access to vaccines while cutting costs. 

In 2012, SB 310 was signed into law as a three year place holder to enable state-supplied vaccine distribution.  This bill was necessary to ensure vaccines would be available while a long-term financing solution is created. 

In June of this year, SB 169 was signed into law.  This new law authorized the creation of an assessment council that the Alaska Immunization Program will be able to purchase vaccines from at discounted rates. 

Staff physician at the section of epidemiology at the Department of Health and Social Services Rosalyn Singleton says the new account is a public-private partnership.

“Private and public payers, insurers, pay into the account from which the state of Alaska Immunization Program can buy vaccines using the account money and offer those vaccines to providers free to allow providers around the state to have access for state provided vaccines.”

Singleton says for 30 years the state of Alaska used two groups of money for all vaccines provided by the state.  However, because of the growing costs of vaccines and the loss of federal funding brought by Ted Stevens, the state had to stop providing vaccines in 2009. 

The new Alaska Vaccine Assessment Council will be appointed in January 2015.  Council will consists of two health care providers, three insurers, one representative of a public insurance or tribal health entity and the Alaska Division of Insurance Director and DHSS Chief Medical Officer. 

Singleton says vaccinations statewide are important for several reasons, but the biggest  concern is safety.

“Number one, access to vaccines. There are a number of communities where individuals because they may fall into a beneficiary category that isn’t served in that community and they cannot get vaccines. That’s been a real difficult area for Alaskans in certain communities. So that’s one issue. And access to vaccines can impact coverage of recommended vaccines. One of the most critical of which right now is measles. There are measles outbreaks around the country right now, there are a record number of measles outbreaks in the lower 48. We have not had any measles since 2000, however, our childhood immunization rates are some of the lowest in the country. And that puts us at significant risk if we got one case in the state if we had an outbreak.”

Singleton says the new vaccine assessment law depends on strong participation between the payers and providers.  The program says with 100 percent participation it can provide access to vaccines for all Alaskans, help curb rising cost of vaccines and enable providers to order all their vaccines from the Alaska Immunization Program.

Nominations to the Alaska Vaccine Assessment Council will be taken through October of this year.  To request a nomination form, email