HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever is encouraging COVID vaccination and she explained what people can do once they have been fully vaccinated.
“People are considered fully vaccinated after two weeks have passed since their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Moderna of Pfizer vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine,” Bever said. “Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 brings with it the ability to start doing many things that stopped because of the pandemic.”
Bever said if you are fully vaccinated, you can gather safely indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart. “You can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without needing to wear masks or staying 6 feet apart. We should still take precautions with anyone who has increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, regardless of our vaccination status,” she said.
Bever said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has also determined that fully vaccinated people can safely gather or have activities outdoors without wearing a mask, except in certain crowded settings. Travel is also less restricted for people who are fully vaccinated. “For travel within the United States, you will not need to get tested for COVID-19 before or after travel, and you will not need to self-quarantine after traveling,” she said. In addition, fully vaccinated people traveling internationally may not be required to have a pre-travel COVID-19 test, depending on the destination, and they will not need to quarantine after arriving back to the United States.
“Another benefit of being fully vaccinated is that if you have been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others, meaning self-quarantine, and you will not need to get tested unless you have symptoms,” Bever said.
Bever also reported the COVID-19 risk dial score for the four-county health district decreased to 1.7 in moderate risk, down from 1.8 the previous week. South Heartland health district encompasses Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. “The past week brought slightly increased average daily cases and slightly increased community positivity,” Bever said. “However, there are currently zero patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 in any of the hospitals in our health district. The last time this happened was for just one day in early March.”
Bever said the four-county area is still in moderate risk for spread of COVID-19. “We are encouraging residents age 16 and older to register for a COVID-19 vaccine and get their shots. Anyone with underlying health conditions should visit with their health care provider first, if they have questions or concerns,” she said.
To date, 46% of South Heartland residents eligible for a vaccine have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 35% of eligible residents have completed their 1-dose or 2-dose series and will be considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the final dose of the series.
“It takes all of us, using all of our prevention tools, to fight COVID-19,” Bever said. “Help your community to ‘finish strong’ by practicing prevention and getting a COVID-19 vaccination.”
SHDHD’s COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard tracks progress on COVID-19 vaccinations in the four-county district. Other vaccine information and updates, along with links to the Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccination Plan and vaccine priority recommendations, are available on SHDHD’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage. The levels of risk for COVID-19 spread are indicated on the risk dial as low (0-1.0, green), moderate (1.0-2.0, yellow), elevated (2.0-3.0, orange) and severe (3.0-4.0, red). The COVID Risk Dial & Community Guidance can be found on SHDHD webpages at www.southheartlandhealth.org. South Heartland District case counts and trends can be found on SHDHD’s dashboard of local COVID-19 case statistics. This dashboard, along with updates, guidance, news releases and other COVID-19 information and links can be found on the SHDHD website: www.southheartlandhealth.org. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) provides daily updates to Nebraska’s coronavirus COVID-19 cases on their Data Dashboard at http://dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Coronavirus.