October 25 2010Due to a supply issue, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital has a limited supply of seasonal flu vaccine to get the hospital through its immediate needs. Until a new supply arrives — which may take a couple of weeks — the hospital will use the priorities established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to offer vaccinations to current SEARHC patients who are at high risk for developing flu-related complications. People on the CDC’s priority group list for seasonal flu vaccinations include young children, pregnant women, people age 65 or older, and people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease. Due to high rates of flu complications last year, Alaska Natives and American Indians have been added to the CDC’s priority list (the complete list can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/high_risk.htm). Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital will hold two special seasonal flu vaccine clinics this week for current SEARHC patients on the CDC’s priority group list. The clinics take place from 1-4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28, and from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 29. Patients who are on the CDC’s priority group list are asked to call 966-8318 to schedule their flu shot. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine includes the H1N1 flu, so only one shot is needed instead of two. Once the new supply of vaccine arrives, SEARHC plans to make vaccinations available to all patients. Since SEARHC had to use a different vendor than normal to buy its new supply of vaccine (the state ran out) there will be a charge of $42.59 for any non-Indian Health Service patients receiving seasonal flu shots. This charge covers both the vaccine cost and an administration fee, and most insurance companies will pay all or part of these charges depending on the patient’s deductible. Updated information on the seasonal flu, including ways people can prevent flu’s spread, can be found online at http://www.pandemicflu.alaska.gov (state site) or at http://www.flu.gov/ (national site).