Alaska Vaccine Assessment Program renewed

Legislators have approved renewal of the state’s immunization program in the Department of Health and Social Services, which was set to expire on Jan. 1, 2021.

Senate Bill 37, sponsored by Senate President Cathy Giessel passed the Senate 19-0 and the House 35-1, and was on its way to Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s desk for his signature May 6.

The program, established in 2014, monitors, purchase and distributes all childhood vaccines and select adult vaccines to providers, making access to vaccines universal for all Alaskans. By 2018, the program covered over 333,000 Alaskans, or 45 percent of the total population.

The program is fully-funded by the state Vaccine Assessment Account through fees from health plans and insurers. The state leverages its buying power to purchase vaccines in bulk using fees collected from health care payers, then distributes vaccines to providers who administer them at no cost, while lowering overall vaccine costs by 20-30 percent.