ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska's health department finally received its allotment of flu vaccine Wednesday -- almost two months later than usual.
The agency has started sending the vaccine to providers, who were encouraged to give shots to high-risk patients first.
Laurel Wood, a spokeswoman with the state Section of Epidemiology, said Alaskans need to be patient because it will take some time to distribute the vaccine.
''Many of the providers will not have received their supply from us yet,'' she told the Anchorage Daily News. ''By the middle of next week, we hope to have filled all of our orders.''
The Health Department asked for about 85,000 doses of the vaccine in September. The vaccine is being sent to public health centers, facilities run by Native corporations and other providers around the state.
This year's shipment was later than usual for a couple of reasons, Woods said
It wasn't certain which of three flu strains should be added to the vaccine to prevent fevers, coughs, sore throats, runny or stuffy noses, headaches and muscle aches, she said.
The state's supplier also had some manufacturing problems, Woods said.
People still can receive immunity from the vaccine even though it arrived late, Woods said.
The flu season has peaked in January, February or March during most of the past 18 years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means it's not too late to get vaccinated.
''It wouldn't be too late in December or even in January,'' Woods said.
The state health department encourages high-risk people to get vaccinated first.
That includes people 65 and older, residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities, people with pulmonary or cardiovascular disorders, children receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who could be at risk of developing Reye's syndrome after a flu infection, women in the second- or third trimester of pregnancy, and health care workers who treat these people.
Anyone with hypersensitivities to eggs should not get a flu shot, Wood said.
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