August is National Immunization Awareness Month: Update from Healthy Alaskans 2020August 7, 2018
Many of us know or have heard a story about the impacts that non-immunized Alaskans, specifically children, have on others. National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance held to provide information on the benefits of immunization and the risks of foregoing important recommended immunizations. The State Health Improvement Plan, Healthy Alaskans 2020, works with local and statewide partners to raise awareness about the importance of immunization as an effective means of infectious disease prevention across the state.
The associated HA2020 Leading Health Indicator 17 is to increase the percentage of children aged 19-35 months who receive the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended vaccination series. The specific target for this indicator is to increase the percentage of vaccinated children age 13-35 months to 75 percent of all Alaska children in this age range.
Data from 2015 indicates that we are on track for meeting the HA2020 target for vaccinations among all Alaskans (66.3 percent). The 75 percent target has been exceeded for Alaska Native population (79.6 percent). In 2015, the national immunization rate for the recommended combined vaccine series for children 19-35 months was 72.2 percent. In comparison, the vaccination rate for Alaska children 19-35 months was 66.3 percent, 8 percent lower than the national rate.
For more detailed trend data on individual indicators, go to DHSS’s Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health (AK-IBIS). http://ibis.dhss.alaska.gov/
What Is Being Done?
People in the United States continue to get diseases that are vaccine preventable. Viral hepatitis and influenza remain among the leading causes of illness and death in the United States and account for substantial spending on the related consequences of infection. Vaccine administration is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions with net returns amounting to 44 times the cost of the vaccine (every $1 spent today on vaccine administration results in a savings of up to $44 in averted costs that would have been needed to manage sick Alaskans).
The Division of Public Health, Sections of Epidemiology and Public Health Nursing collectively work to prevent and control vaccine preventable disease in Alaska by:
- Providing vaccines to health care providers at no charge
- Providing an immunization information system for use by health care providers and schools to maintain consolidated immunization records for Alaskans of all ages
- Ensuring school and childcare compliance with immunization regulations
- Providing immunization education and training for health care providers and the general public
- Coordinating surveillance and control efforts for vaccine-preventable diseases
- Mobilizing local partners to increase community immunization rates
- Providing vaccines for clients needing safety net services
- Supporting efforts to increase vaccinations for all Alaskans
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC)
The ANTHC Immunization program works to eliminate disparities in vaccine-preventable disease in Alaska Native people through immunization. ANTHC’s Immunization program works with statewide Tribal health partners to coordinate and advocate for the needs of Tribal immunization programs, and educate Tribal staff on immunization recommendations and vaccine-preventable disease.
The program facilitates educational opportunities for a variety of health care providers throughout the Alaska Tribal Health System including:
- Quarterly regional Immunization Coordinator meetings via webinar with updates on immunization-related topics
- Community Health Aide/Practitioner (CHA/P) training offered in person, through the Electronic Community Health Aide Manual (eCHAM) and online
- Vaccinator training for health care providers
- Immunization coordinator responsibility training
- Educational resources and promotional materials
What Can You Do?
Make an immunization appointment with your health care provider, or contact your local public health center: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Nursing/Pages/locations.aspx
Review vaccine requirements for school age children: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/wcfh/Pages/school/Back-to-School.aspx
If you do not know what vaccines your child has received, you can obtain a copy of their immunization records through your health care provider. All immunization services providers in Alaska are required to utilize VacTrAK, a statewide immunization database, to document vaccine administration which provides records to health care providers, not directly to patients or parents.
ANTHC Immunization Schedule: https://anthc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2018-ANTHC-Vaccine-Schedule-FINAL-3-13-18.pdf
State of Alaska Immunization Program: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/iz/Pages/default.aspx
CDC for Parents: Vaccines for Your Children: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html
American Academy of Pediatrics Immunizations: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/immunizations/Pages/Immunizations-home.aspx
About Healthy Alaskans 2020
Healthy Alaskans 2020 brings together partners from many sectors across the state to improve health and ensure health equity for all Alaskans through shared understanding, united efforts, and collective accountability.
Led jointly by the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and ANTHC, Healthy Alaskans 2020 is a framework of 25 health priorities for Alaska. Each priority has its own target for improvement to reach by 2020. This framework is based on the latest scientific evidence and the input of Alaskans from communities across the state.
Details on all 25 Leading Health Indicators, and the progress made to date on each, are available at http://ha2020.alaska.gov.