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Sen. Giessel SB 144 Heard in H&SS Committee – Would Temporarily Reinstate Immunization Program

(Juneau) – Legislation to temporarily restore lost funding to the Alaska Immunization Program was considered by the Senate Health and Social Services committee today. Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, introduced SB 144 with Sen. Donald Olson, D-Nome, to address a reduction in federal funding for Alaska vaccines.

The program, championed by the late Sen. Ted Stevens, was cut from $4.3 million in FY2010 down to a mere $700,000 for FY2013.

“Senator Stevens understood how important affordable vaccinations are for Alaska, especially in our rural villages, where so many vaccine-preventable diseases can quickly devastate a village population,” Sen. Giessel said. “As a result of this drastic decrease in federal funding, affordable vaccinations are no longer readily available to all Alaskans.”

The reductions in funding have forced the program to reduce the number of eligible vaccines available to children throughout the state, and completely discontinue those available to adults. SB 144 temporarily substitutes state funding for the decrease in federal funding through FY2015.  This action will give the State time to find a long-term funding solution.

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