Public Health Center to launch community vaccine clinics

The Kenai Public Health Center will introduce the first in a series of immunization clinics this Saturday in an attempt to fill medical treatment gaps in the community.

The clinics, held at the center from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every second Saturday of the month, could not come at a better time for the residents and children of Kenai. On June 9, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services announced that Alaska’s first case of measles in over a decade was confirmed in Fairbanks.

According to Public Health Nurse Tami Marsters, a person who comes in contact with measles and has not been vaccinated has a 90 percent chance of contracting it.

“We are always trying to increase our immunization rates,” Marsters said. “It’s always a reminder to us to keep trying to get people to get their kids vaccinated. Vaccines are one of the most studied medicines we have, and one of the most beneficial.”

According to Marsters, both measles and polio are “on the upswing,” and whooping cough is the disease most commonly contracted by un-vaccinated children.

Nurse Manager Leslie Felts said the clinics are meant to accommodate people’s schedules and to catch families who fall through the cracks of primary care.

“We are gap-fillers,” she said. “We know in this community there are new families that move in, or maybe families in transition between health insurance or between jobs, so we fill those gaps to insure that children stay up-to-date on their immunizations.”

Marsters said several common misconceptions about immunization prevent some parents from vaccinating their children.

She said the proposed link between the combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella and autism spectrum disorders is one reason some parents choose not to vaccinate. The idea that too many vaccines are given at once, overwhelming a child’s immune system, is another concern for parents.

“Neither one of those are true,” Marsters said.

In 2012, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report found that Alaska had the lowest immunization rate of combined-series vaccines in the country — only 59.5 percent. In 2013, that rate climbed to 63.9 percent, putting Alaska ahead of Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

As federal funding for immunization decreased, Marsters said public health centers were not always able to vaccinate all children. Now, the state operates under the Vaccines for Children program, which distributes vaccines purchased by the CDC to clinics, allowing families be served regardless of their ability to pay.

“We’ve had several different solutions, this one being the best, in that we can again give vaccines to all kids.” Marsters said.

While Felts said the center respects the rights and opinions of parents in regard to their children, she emphasized the fact that the diseases that can be prevented with vaccines, should be.

“As school opening gets closer, we want to give (parents) the opportunity to get (their) children’s immunizations before enrollment so that the children are not eliminated from school,” she said.

The immunization clinics are scheduled to run by appointment until Nov. 14. To schedule an appointment, call the Kenai Public Health Center at 907- 335-3400.

Reach Megan Pacer at

More in News

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Kenai Vice Mayor and council member Bob Molloy (center), council member Jim Glendening (right), council member Victoria Askin (far right), and council member Henry Knackstedt (far left) participate in a work session discussing the overhaul of Kenai election codes on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska.
Kenai City Council gives sendoffs, certifies election results

Both council members-elect — Deborah Sounart and James Baisden — attended Wednesday.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
COVID is No. 3 underlying cause of death among Alaskans so far this year

The virus accounted for about 7.5% of all underlying causes of death after a review of death certificates.

Rep. David Eastman, R-Wasilla, speaks on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives during a floor debate on Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021, over an appropriations bill during the Legislature’s third special session of the summer. Multiple organizations reported on Wednesday that Eastman is a lifetime member of the far-right organization the Oath Keepers. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Data leak shows state rep is member of far-right organization

Wasilla area lawmaker said he joined when Oath Keepers first started.

Christine Hutchison, who lives in Kenai and also serves on the Kenai Harbor Commission, testifies in support of the use of alternative treatments for COVID-19 during a meeting of the Kenai City Council on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Medical liberty’ petition brought to Kenai City Council

Some members of the public and Kenai City Council spoke against health mandates and in support of alternative treatments for COVID-19

Amber Kraxberger-Linson, a member of Trout Unlimited and streamwatch coordinator for the Chugach National Forest, works in the field in this undated photo. Kraxberger-Linson will be discussing at the Saturday, Oct. 23 International Fly Fishing Film Festival the organization’s educational programming for next summer. (Photo provided by Trout Unlimited)
Out on the water — and on the screen

Trout Unlimited to host fly fishing film festival Saturday.

This screen capture from surveillance footage released by the Anchorage Police Department shows a masked man vandalizing the Alaska Jewish Museum in Anchorage in May. (Courtesy photo / APD)
Museums statewide condemn antisemitic vandalism

Two incidents, one in May, one in September, have marred the museum this year.

Three speech language pathologists with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District were recognized for excellence during the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association last month. (Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)
Peninsula speech language therapists awarded for excellence

“I was very honored to be recognized by my peers and colleagues,” Evans said in an interview with the Clarion.

Most Read