WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Alaska waives immunization fees during National Infant Immunization Week

Public health centers in Alaska will waive all immunization administration fees between April 20 and April 27 as a part of National Infant Immunization Week.

Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services announced the temporary elimination of immunization administration fees on Wednesday. The department said the week long observation is an ideal time to update children's vaccinations for free.

National Infant Immunization Week emphasizes the need to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases. The week-long commemoration also celebrates the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in the promotion of healthier communities. Since 1994, National Infant Immunization Week has been a call to action for healthcare providers, caregivers and parents to make sure that infants are fully immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.

Alaskan parents are encouraged to call their local state public health center to schedule an appointment for immunization between April 20 and April 27 for additional information. All immunization administration fees will be waived, even for dads, moms, grandfathers and grandmothers to receive vaccinations.

Typical administrative fees for regular services will continue to apply.

On Tuesday, Alaskan health officials announced that the state's neonatal mortality rate of 1.92 deaths per 1,000 live births was number one in the nation.

"Alaska families are living happier, healthier lives with their babies," Stephanie Birch, the co-chair of the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership, said. "In the past, barriers such as poor access, the lack of a transport system for mothers and sick or premature newborns, and difficult logistics contributed to mortality rates for newborns and infants higher than every other state in the U.S. Over the past 30 years, the Alaskan health care community has worked together to overcome these unique challenges and their efforts have paid off."