ANCHORAGE — Too few Alaskans are getting an annual flu shot, doctors say, with some patients claiming they are too healthy to need a vaccination and others saying the side effects scare them away.
“Every year you get hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone who are hospitalized as a result of influenza infection,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska state epidemiologist. “You don’t get that with the common cold.”
This week, Alaska state health officials began tracking adults who die from the flu, KTUU-TV reported.
There have been no reported flu deaths in the state, but McLaughlin said doctors and hospitals previously have been required to report only deaths among children.
This year, there have been more than 240 reported cases of influenza in Alaska, according to state figures. The majority of the cases are type-A flu, which includes the H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more young and middle-age adults are getting respiratory infections because of the flu, and doctors urge people to get a yearly vaccination.
Dr. Jeanette Legenza at the Children’s Clinic in Anchorage said the clinic is diagnosing cases of the flu among patients who have not been vaccinated.
BETHEL — Federal officials are planning field work next summer at an abandoned Alaska mercury mine to stop large tailings piles from eroding into a nearby creek.
KYUK reports the Bureau of Land Management is planning the work at the Red Devil Mine 255 miles west of Anchorage. The work is intended to keep metals from getting into Red Devil Creek, and then the Kuskokwim River.
The BLM is also looking for a long-term solution. Options include doing nothing, putting a fence around the site to keep people and wildlife out, or putting the contaminated materials into a landfill of sorts. The last option would be shipping the contaminated material to special facilities in the Lower 48. That’s still in the study process, and a decision could be years away.
ANCHORAGE — If you’re planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Alaska’s largest city, don’t bring the fireworks.
The Anchorage Daily News reports fireworks remain illegal within city limits.
Fireworks were legal for a three-and-a-half hour window on New Year’s Eve in 2010 and 2011, but the ordinance expired and was never brought back up for a vote.
— The Associated Press