Department of Health urges flu, COVID-19 and RSV vaccines

An Alaska Public Health Alert delivered by the State Department of Health on Monday “urges” an increase in vaccination against the flu, COVID-19 and RSV, citing low coverage rates nationwide and below average rates in Alaska.

According to information included with the release, only 18.5% of Alaskans have received a flu vaccine as of last week. That number falls below the rates observed in both of the last two flu seasons, 19.1% in 2022-2023 and 21.2% in 2021-2022.

Similarly, the COVID-19 booster that was made available in September has only been received by 13.4% of Alaskans aged 6 months or older — everyone is recommended to receive a dose of the updated vaccine.

Finally, an RSV vaccine made available this year for those older than 60 years has only been received by 9% of that population. This falls below the national average of 15.9%.

Also included in the alert is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Advisory that describes the same “urgent need to increase immunization coverage” for the three respiratory diseases.

“Low vaccination rates, coupled with ongoing increases in national and international respiratory disease activity … could lead to more severe disease and increased healthcare capacity strain in the coming weeks,” the advisory reads.

The CDC points to significant increases in nationwide hospitalizations and 12 children killed by the flu.

In Alaska, the Department’s Respiratory Virus Snapshot shows that, as of Dec. 9, confirmed cases of respiratory diseases are still broadly declining. COVID-19 and RSV are holding steady, but relatively low, while influenza has been declining since Nov. 4.

On the Kenai Peninsula, the snapshot shows more recent elevated influenza activity, though the case rate had sharply declined between the weeks ending Dec. 2 and Dec. 9.

For more information about vaccine recommendations and respiratory virus activity in the state, visit

Reach reporter Jake Dye at