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New Alaska vaccine program to go into effect in January, makes access easier

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

AVAP is designed to update the state's immunization program and provide easier access to those in small and rural communities.  

The first year of the Alaska Vaccine Assessment Program will go into effect in January.  With this program, health care insurers will fund an account directly to help pay for the cost of vaccines in the state.  KDLG’sThea Card has the details.

The Department of Health and Social Services will determine the vaccine assessment rate for each payer, i.e. a health care insurer or health benefit plan, based on the covered people they serve.

“Private and public insurance companies pay into an account from which the state of Alaska immunization program can purchase vaccines and make them more widely available.”

This is Rosalyn Singleton, a staff physician at the Section of Epidemiology at DHSS. She says AVAP is intended to update the immunization program in Alaska because of the decrease in federal funding.

“At the same time the cost of vaccines went, in the 1980’s it was $45-80 and now it’s $2,000 to vaccinate a child.”

Singleton says a huge concern to her and those in the health sector lies in the villages.  Rural Alaska and small communities have difficulty getting to vaccines because of cost or can’t obtain them because of regulations. 

“We want to make sure that all children have access to vaccines no matter where they are and then some of the core adult vaccines as well.”

AVAP’s effectiveness depends on several factors including the participation of payers and providers.  The state is expecting that with 100 percent participation AVAP will increase patient access, help curb the cost of vaccines and ease the burden on providers like health clinics and hospitals.