Health

Electronic cigarettes are promoted on Dec. 21 in the windows of a specialty store in Midtown Anchorage. A new state report shows that teen use of e-cigarettes, also called vapes, has risen dramatically, as is the trend nationally. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Dramatic decline in teen smoking largely offset by boom in e-cigarette use, state report says

BY: - December 22, 2022

Alaska teens have largely ditched cigarettes over the past two decades, but they have substituted that unhealthy habit with another: vaping. About a quarter of surveyed high schoolers reported using electronic cigarettes in the past 30 days, according to the Alaska Tobacco Facts Update, released last week by the Alaska Department of Health. The national […]

MMusher Paige Drobny, wearing the required face mask at the ceremonial Anchorage start of the 2022 Iditarod Treail Sled Dog Race on March 5, carried a pro-vaccine message on her way to Nome. A race rule mandated masking at large gathering sites during the race to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

COVID-19 pushed Alaska’s death rate higher and life expectancy lower in 2021

BY: - December 20, 2022

Alaskans’ life expectancy dropped and death rate rose in 2021, with COVID-19 ranking as the third-highest cause of death during the year, according to the Vital Statistics Annual Report released last week by the Alaska Division of Public Health. The difference between 2021 and 2020 was driven mostly by COVID-19. In 2021, there were 6,216 […]

Acting Alaska health commissioner Hedberg is pick for permanent boss

BY: - December 19, 2022

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has named the Alaska Department of Health’s interim leader as the agency’s new permanent commissioner. In a prepared statement Monday, he announced the appointment of Heidi Hedberg, who has served in a variety of roles within the state’s division of public health. Hedberg’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the Alaska Legislature. […]

A yearling brown bear cub sits in the brush in the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge on Jully 23, 2015. On Nov. 26, a local deer hunter found a different cub that was confirmed to be the first brown bear to have died from the highly pathogenic avian influenza that is circulating in wild and domesticated bird flocks. (Photo by Lisa Hupp/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Dead brown bear cub shows how avian influenza is lingering in Alaska’s environment

BY: - December 16, 2022

A dead brown bear cub found on Kodiak Island is one of the latest signs that the current strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza behind the deaths of tens of millions of birds is continuing to circulate in wild populations, infecting a variety of species. The cub carcass, discovered on Nov. 26 by a local […]

(Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

White House resumes handing out free COVID-19 rapid test kits

BY: - December 15, 2022

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is once again offering Americans the opportunity to order free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests from the federal government, a program that it had shuttered amid an ongoing stalemate with Congress over additional funding to address the virus.  The program will allow each household to order four free COVID-19 tests as […]

COMMENTARY
Health care didn't get the headlines as in previous election cycles, but health care advocates won big anyway. (Getty Images photo)

Health care was also on the ballot, and health care won

BY: - December 14, 2022

In November, millions of voters in red, blue and purple states voted on the future of our health care directly on the ballot. And U.S. Sen. Warnock ran his re-election campaign and run-off on health care. Health care won decisively. Voters decided to expand Medicaid in South Dakota, meaning more than 40,000 low-income South Dakotans […]

Argonaut Wharf near Campbell River, British Columbia, is the primary export port for the Myra Falls mine in Strathcona Provincial Park, on Oct. 31, 2021. Myra Falls primarily mines minerals such as zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold which after being processed is exported from Canada to Asia via freighter ship. (Photo by Alex Ratson via Getty Images)

Tribes seek U.S. help to curb Canadian mining threats to Northwestern states

BY: - December 9, 2022

Indigenous leaders from the Northwest renewed their call this week for the federal government to pressure Canada to stop additional mining activity in British Columbia, which they say contaminates waters and threatens Native American ways of life in Alaska, Montana and Idaho. As British Columbia plans to expand its profitable coal, copper and gold mining […]

Lalain Reyeg administers a COVID-19 booster vaccine and an influenza vaccine to Army veteran Gary Nasakaitis at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital on September 24, 2021, in Hines, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Alaska’s flu season continues to worsen, epidemiology reports show

BY: - December 7, 2022

Alaska’s flu season is worsening with no signs of leveling off, the latest surveillance report from the Alaska Department of Health showed on Wednesday. This week, the Anchorage Daily News reported that unusually high rates of flu and respiratory syncytial virus are filling pediatric units at hospitals across the state, and the weekly flu report […]

A U.S. Marine prepares to receive the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at Camp Hansen on April 28, 2021 in Kin, Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Congress on track to scrap Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate in defense bill

BY: - December 7, 2022

WASHINGTON — Members of the U.S. military would no longer be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine under a proposal Congress could pass as soon as this week.  The provision eliminating the vaccine mandate is tucked into the massive National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy bill that Congress has passed each year for […]

COMMENTARY
This image is of anthrax bacteria under a microscope. (Photo by Todd Parker/CDC)

Pandoravirus: the melting Arctic is releasing ancient germs – how worried should we be?

BY: - December 6, 2022

Scientists have recently revived several large viruses that had been buried in the frozen Siberian ground (permafrost) for tens of thousands of years. The youngest virus to be revived was a sprightly 27,000 years old. And the oldest – a Pandoravirus – was around 48,500 years old. This is the oldest virus ever to have […]

Here’s when drug prices will start to decrease for Medicare recipients

BY: - December 3, 2022

Starting next month, a $35 cap on insulin prices will go into effect for millions of Medicare recipients. The lower pricing is one of the first of several policy measures Americans will see in the coming months and years under the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August. The bill also requires pharmaceutical companies […]

Groups supporting abortion rights, on the left with pink signs and clothes, and opposing abortion, on the right with blue signs and clothes, mark the closure of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Soldotna. The last day of operation was May 31, 2022. (Photo provided by Bob Bird)

Alaska activist describes decades dedicated to anti-abortion work

BY: - December 2, 2022

Rebecca Hinsberger was raised thinking the right to abortion was a good thing. “My mother was a very outspoken supporter of abortion,” she said. “So I grew up in that atmosphere: that abortion was perfectly OK and shouldn’t be stigmatized.” Hinsberger started adulthood this way. She lived in a yoga ashram for six months. She […]