WASILLA — Ptarmigan Pediatrics is currently offering free influenza vaccinations every Thursday throughout the month of October.
“This is the year to stay as healthy as you can,” Ptarmigan Pediatrics clinic services supervisor Stacy Peterson said.
Valley parents and guardians have the chance to bring their children to Ptarmigan every Thursday with appointment slots running from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“We’re getting good response to it already,” Peterson said. “Right now we’re giving flu shots left and right.”
While this recent program is focused on children, Peterson said any accompanying adult is able to receive a free shot as well while they’re there.
“The neat thing this year is the state is allowing us to do that. This isn’t something we’re normally able to do. This year the state’s really pushing flu vaccines, and they’re opening it up to other clinics to do that,” Peterson said.
Depending on the overall local need, Ptarmigan may extend this flu vaccination program after past October.
“If demand is high, we’ll keep it going as long as we can,” Peterson said.
According to Peterson, the state has been supplying Ptarmigan with flu vaccines. He said they made it a point to offer this service to the public without a price tag, especially considering the surrounding COVID-19 situation.
“We’re strong supporters of vaccines in particular because it helps out, right?” Peterson said. “We want to try to protect as many people as we can.”
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses with symptoms ranging from mild nausea, aches, and chills to severe infections that lead to hospitalization and even death.
Eldery people, young children and those with underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to serious flu complications, especially if they come in contact with another virus, like COVID-19 which has no vaccinations available yet.
“If we can keep as many people out of the hospital as we can, I guess that’s the big thing. So, there’s a thought that COVID might kick up— and of course, if we’re looking at the numbers, it is kicking up a little bit— if it kicks up even more this fall and the hospital gets more action, it would be nice if those weren’t flu people you know?” Peterson said.
Ptarmigan Pediatrics is the largest pediatric facility in the Valley. Peterson said they can handle 100 or so patients a day “without trouble.”
He said they’re one of several medical facilities on the state’s list to receive the COVID vaccine once it’s finally developed. He said they currently have limited COVID testing for children, and they’re looking for ways to increase their testing options.
With flu season in full effect, Peterson said it’s important to get vaccinated as soon as possible. He said there’s a lot of local options available, noting that most pediatricians offer vaccinations for kids, and family doctors might be the most convenient option for adults at this point.
Peterson asked for anyone planning to take their kids to Ptarmigan for a flu shot to call them up to schedule an appointment ahead of time.
“We can fit quite a few people in but it’s not a thing that’s unlimited,” Peterson said.
Peterson said they cannot give vaccines to eldery patients (who need a special, high dose), pregnant women, and those specific diseases or underlying conditions that require different more specialized care at the appropriate medical facility.
“If you’re not feeling well, don’t come,” Peterson said. “We’re just trying to keep it as healthy as possible.”
On top of hand washing, covering coughs, and staying home from work or school when sick, getting the annual flu shot is the best way you can do to protect yourself and others during flu season, according to the State of Alaska website.
The state website contains a list of clinics, public health centers and other medical facilities that offer flu vaccinations. For more information, visit dhss.alaska.gov/dph/nursing/Pages/locations.aspx
To schedule an appointment with Ptarmigan Pediatrics, call 907-357-4543.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com