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May 16, 1990

It's 'North to Alaska' for Research on Some Vaccines by Infectious Diseases Staff

JAMA. 1990;263(19):2583. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440190039015

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NATIVE ALASKANS are important allies to CDC epidemiologists.

High rates of hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae infection plague the Inuit (commonly called Eskimo), Aleut and Indian populations, providing unique opportunities for focused study.

The Center for Infectious Diseases keeps 14 full-time employees at its Arctic Investigations Program field station in Anchorage.

The effective use of hepatitis B vaccine was first demonstrated here, despite the "tremendous distances and logistic problems" inherent in studying a population spread over 200 different communities, some as far as 500 frozen miles (800 km) from major medical centers, says director Ann Lanier, MD, MPH. Since only 15% of Alaska is accessible by road, researchers had to fly in and out of villages to collect blood samples, perform laboratory screens for exposure, administer vaccine, and then retest for immunogenicity.

Now 7 years out, the study is continuing to follow up patients to see when a booster shot