State Senators Cathy Giessel (R, Anchorage) and Donald Olson (D, Nome) joined forces to try and restore funding to Alaska’s immunization program for children and adults of all ages. Senator Giessel is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner and Senator Olson is a physician.
See Also: Your Essential Guide To Health Screenings and Vaccines
Giessel and Olson who are aware professionally of the preventive health benefits of immunization co-sponsored Senate Bill 144 to restore funding for three years for these preventive measures.
In 2010, Alaska received funding from the federal government of $4.3 million to pay for the entire immunization program for children and adults. This funding has gradually decreased to just $700,000 for 2013.
Under this legislation, the State of Alaska would continue to provide adults with free vaccines for influenza (the flu), pneumococcal (pneumonia), and TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough).
Children would be provided with thirteen different vaccines recommended by health professionals varying from polio, influenza, Hepatitis A and B, and TDaP as well as other standard preventive vaccines.
Why is this important?
In the United States, vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once regularly killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults. However, the bacteria and viruses that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines.
Vaccine-preventable diseases have many costs, both economical and social: parents who need to stay home to take care of sick children lose time from work. Diseases also result in visits to the doctor’s office, possible hospitalizations and even death. The last thing we want is for almost unknown diseases to stage a comeback simply because we have become complacent.
AARP applauds Senator Giessel and Olson and their bi-partisan effort to protect Alaskans. This is a bill that we can all live (longer) with. And we don't vaccinate just to protect ourselves – and our children. We also vaccinate to protect our grandchildren and their grandchildren.
We encourage you to contact your Senator and Representative and encourage them to “support Senate Bill 144” when it comes before them for a vote.