Flu season kicks off

The flu season is officially under way in Alaska, and while it’s impossible to say what exactly the season will look like, local health agencies are trying to prepare central Kenai Peninsula residents with shots.

Some may not even have to get out of their cars. Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna is planning its annual drive-through flu shot clinic on Wednesday for anyone over 18 years old. The clinic runs from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The event usually serves hundreds of people, said Camille Sorenson, the marketing manager for the hospital.

“We’ve never run out of vaccinations,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of people call me about it (and) ask, ‘Are you doing that again this year?’”

Those seeking a vaccine will line up in their cars along Fireweed Street in Soldotna and verify their age before receiving a shot and taking off. The shots are free.

One difference this year is that the nasal spray flu vaccine is no longer being recommended. The nasal spray, also called the live-attenuated influenza vaccine, has been shown to be ineffective this year, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nasal spray was also shown to be ineffective in the 2013–2014 and 2015–2016 flu seasons, according to the CDC.

Influenza is not caused by just one type of virus — there are two major types that get people sick, influenza A and influenza B, with many different subtypes. The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices evaluates and recommends flu vaccines every year based on the relative prevalence of different influenza types found in surveillance throughout the year.

Last year in Alaska, the state received seven reports of deaths from influenza, all of whom were adults. In general, those who were vaccinated seemed to be well protected against the disease last season, according to a Sept. 20 bulletin from the state Division of Public Health Section of Epidemiology. H1N1 dominated early in the season, followed by H3N2 and influenza B types later in the season, according to the bulletin.

“Nationally and in Alaska the majority of influenza A and influenza B (types) were well matched to the 2015–2016 influenza vaccine,” the bulletin states.

It’s hard to predict when the flu season will peak in Alaska, but the peak usually falls between November and March.

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccines for every person older than 6 months old without contraindications, preferably early in the season before many people in the community are sick. It’s best to get one by the end of October, if possible, but some children may need more than one depending on how many vaccines they have had before, according to the CDC.

“…Getting vaccinated later is OK,” the CDC’s website states. “Vaccination should continue throughout the flu season, even in January or later.”

In Kenai, those seeking a flu vaccine can go to the Kenai Public Health Center, Safeway or their doctor to get a flu vaccine. In Soldotna, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy provide flu shots, as do medical clinics.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchorage, Alaska, looks at an oversized booklet explaining election changes in the state on Jan. 21, 2022. Alaska elections will be held for the first time this year under a voter-backed system that scraps party primaries and sends the top four vote-getters regardless of party to the general election, where ranked choice voting will be used to determine a winner. No other state conducts its elections with that same combination. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
How Alaska’s new ranked choice election system works

The Alaska Supreme Court last week upheld the system, narrowly approved by voters in 2020.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to a joint meeting of the Alaska State Legislature at the Alaska State Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, for his fourth State of the State address of his administration. Dunleavy painted a positive picture for the state despite the challenges Alaska has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the economy. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Gov points ‘North to the Future’

Dunleavy paints optimistic picture in State of the State address

A COVID-19 test administrator discusses the testing process with a patient during the pop-up rapid testing clinic at Homer Public Health Center on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Free rapid COVID-19 testing available in Homer through Friday

A drive-up COVID-19 testing clinic will be held at Homer Public Health Center this week.

In this Sept. 21, 2017, file photo, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin speaks at a rally in Montgomery, Ala. Palin is on the verge of making new headlines in a legal battle with The New York Times. A defamation lawsuit against the Times, brought by the brash former Alaska governor in 2017, is set to go to trial starting Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in federal court in Manhattan. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)
Palin COVID-19 tests delay libel trial against NY Times

Palin claims the Times damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board

Most Read