HASTINGS – On Monday evening, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever announced that general population residents age 18+ will now be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. “However, we are asking vaccine providers to take a reverse age approach and also to focus on individuals with underlying medical conditions so that, as a district, we are concentrating first on vaccinating those who are most at risk of severe illness,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides vaccine considerations for people with underlying medical conditions. “The CDC states that COVID-19 vaccines may be administered to most people with underlying medical conditions once vaccine is available to them. If you have questions about getting COVID-19 vaccine, we encourage you to talk with your healthcare providers for advice. Also, make sure you inform the vaccinator about all of your allergies and health conditions.”
Bever said the department will be wrapping up shots for Phase 1B and 1C priorities, which includes essential staff from food processing plants, co-ops, and the transportation sector, as well as residents at homeless shelters, residential/congregate living care facilities.
South Heartland is encouraging residents in the eligible age groups to register for a COVID vaccine on the state vaccine registration and administration system, vaccinate.ne.gov. This site can also be reached by clicking on the red ribbon at the top of the SHDHD website home page at southheartlandhealth.org, where site visitors can find current information about the vaccine and vaccine roll out in South Heartland. Next, click on the picture of the vaccine to start your vaccine registration on the Nebraska vaccine registration portal.
“Our district is transitioning to Nebraska’s vaccine registration and administration system to schedule people for their COVID-19 vaccine appointment,” Bever said. “Once we transition, residents will need to be in the system to have an opportunity to schedule an appointment.” Those needing assistance with registration should contact the NE State Vaccine hotline at 833-998-2275. Individuals 60 and over can contact Midland Area Agency on Aging for assistance with vaccine registration at 402-463-4565 Extension – 499.
Bever also said Bert’s Pharmacy and Walmart in Hastings were participating in a Federal Retail Pharmacy Program and receiving their own separate allotments of COVID-19 vaccine. “The pharmacies in this program are another good local option for accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.” she said.
Health officials reported 11 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past four days (March 26 – March 29), bringing the cumulative number of cases in the four-county health district to 4,587. The new confirmed cases for the four-day period were eight in Adams County, one in Clay County, and two in Nuckolls County. By county, the new cumulative totals are: 2,985 cases in Adams, 749 cases in Clay, 505 cases in Nuckolls, and 348 cases in Webster.
Overall positivity (number of positive tests divided by the number of tests conducted) in the health district for the week ending March 27, increased to 5% compared to 2.2% the week before. “We have another week of good news in our long-term care facilities, where staff and resident testing logged zero percent positivity for the 6th week in a row,” she said. “If we look only at community testing, the positivity is 11.6%, up from 7.6% the previous week.”
“Prevention continues to be important to protect ourselves and others from severe COVID-19 illness,” Bever said. “This includes physical distancing, wearing masks that cover our noses and mouths, and scheduling the COVID vaccine when it is our turn,” she said.