South Heartland District Health Department Says to Get Vaccinated Ahead of Fall Activities

HASTINGS – South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever provided a weekly update to keep residents informed about COVID-19 in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties.

Bever reported the department logged a total of four lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases for the week ending July 10 and three new cases so far in the current week. The health district’s current cumulative total is 4,933 confirmed cases. Case counts by county are 3,185 in Adams County, 782 in Clay County, 547 in Nuckolls County and 419 in Webster County.

The weekly positivity (percent positive tests) increased from 0.6% to 1.5% overall. For the general population, the positivity was 3.1% for the week ending July 10. For testing in long term care facilities, the positivity remained at 0%.

Bever reported the 14-day average of daily new cases per 100,000 has remained steady at 0.9 or lower since June 4, 2021, but with the addition of four new cases last week the 7-day average of daily new cases per 100K jumped to 1.6, still below the goal threshold of 8/day/100K, but the highest rate since May 27, 2021. “Our overall local risk of COVID-19 remains balanced at the border of low and moderate risk,” Bever said.

“The vaccination rates in South Heartland residents continue to increase very, very slowly, with some age groups more protected than others,” Bever said. To date, 81.8% of South Heartland residents age 65 and older are fully vaccinated. At the other end of the spectrum, 11% of 16–19-year-olds are fully vaccinated (plus 3% more that have their first shots) and 8% of 12–15-year-olds are fully vaccinated (plus 2% more who have their first shots). Overall, only 38.5% of residents across the age spectrum are fully vaccinated and just 41% percent of residents all ages have received at least one dose of vaccine.

“Our COVID-19 vaccination rates in South Heartland are well below the national averages. In the U.S. overall, 48.1% are fully vaccinated and 55.6% have received at least one dose,” Bever said. News from around the country, including in Nebraska and neighboring states, is showing outbreaks of the Delta variant in low vaccination areas and also associated with camps or sports facilities where vaccination rates of attendees or members is low.

According to Bever, the department has not yet identified the Delta variant in any South Heartland cases, but she said the highly transmissible variant is associated with outbreaks in other parts of the state and is making up the majority of cases nationwide.

“Vaccines protect against severe COVID-19 illness caused by the coronavirus variants,” Bever said.  “If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t wait. Getting your first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine soon means you could be fully vaccinated before the first football game and other fall activities.”

South Heartland is encouraging anyone 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “Remember it takes three or four weeks between doses of the mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer or Moderna, respectively) and another two weeks after the second dose until your immune system has had a chance to respond and you are considered fully vaccinated. On the other hand, the Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine is just one dose plus two weeks to become fully vaccinated,” she said.

Bever said all three vaccine products – Pfizer BioNTech, J&J Janssen, and Moderna – are available in the health district. SHDHD’s vaccine webpage (southheartlandhealth.org) includes a list of locations offering vaccine in the South Heartland District and which vaccine products are offered at each site. The list is updated frequently to include new times, dates, whether walk-ins are accepted, and how to make an appointment at each site. In addition, many health care providers in the district are offering COVID-19 vaccine to their patients.

Bever encourages residents to contact their personal doctor or the health department if they have questions about the vaccine.  Contact South Heartland District Health Department at 402-462-6211 or 877-238-7595.

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