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State health officials continue to encourage Alaskans to get flu shot

The State has run out of high dose flu vaccine designed for seniors.
The State has run out of high dose flu vaccine designed for seniors.(ktuu)
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 5:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A flu vaccine meant for seniors is in short supply in Alaska but health officials are still encouraging everyone to get their flu shots.

The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is designed to boost the immune system response in people 65 and older. Matthew Bobo, immunization program manager for the state, said the program preordered 3,500 doses of the high-dose vaccine based on normal patterns. When COVID-19 struck, and it became clear there would be a high demand for the flu vaccine, Bobo said the high-dose was no longer available.

State health officials are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot with whatever vaccine is available, and the state still has plenty of the regular variety on hand. Amy Paul, a clinical pharmacist with Providence Family Medical Center said it’s important that people not wait.

“At this point, we are so late into October, into November,” said Paul. “It takes about two weeks for your body to mount an immune response from the vaccine. So I wouldn’t wait in hopes that we will get more of the high dose, because at this point it’s likely we won’t. It’s better to just to be vaccinated.”

Paul echoed the words of other health professionals on the importance of getting vaccinated for the flu, even if it’s not a protection against COVID-19.

“A question I get a lot is, ‘Is it going to protect me against the COVID-19 virus?’ which it won’t. But it will save you maybe from a trip to the hospital and save the health care system from being overburdened by a virus that we know is preventable.”

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