South Heartland District Health Department to Begin Vaccinating K-12 Essential Staff

HASTINGS – On Wednesday evening, South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever reported the department is working to “catch up” on vaccinations this week, after a week with no vaccine shipments due to the winter weather.

“We received last week’s vaccine on Monday and this week’s vaccine today, so we are working to get 1,500 doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine into arms by next Tuesday,” she said. “We also received enough booster doses this week for the 600 people who are scheduled for their second shots this week and next.”

The local health department continues to focus vaccine efforts on individuals age 65+. “This group is at higher risk of complications and death from COVID-19, so we and our vaccine partners are focused on getting this group vaccinated. At the same time, we are using a small portion of the vaccine allotment for prioritized essential workers, according to Nebraska’s Phase 1B priority plan,” Bever said. “This week we will start including essential staff from each of our K-12 schools in the four counties. And, over the coming weeks, we will continue to offer a small percent of our total weekly vaccine shipment to essential workers in the education sector.”

Bever also reported the COVID-19 risk dial score dropped to 1.9 in moderate risk, from 2.0 the previous week. “The number of positive tests reported each day continues to drop – averaging just 4.4 per day this past week,” Bever said. “Our 14-day average of new daily cases decreased to twelve per 100,000 for the week ending February 20,” she said.

SHDHD’s hospital capacity indicators were also improved over last week. According to the February 24 dashboard, eighty-two percent of ICU beds were available, 8% percent of inpatients were COVID-positive, and there were two COVID-19-positive inpatients, one needing ventilation.

“All of the steps our residents are taking, all the tools we are using to block the spread of the coronavirus, are working to keep our schools open, our hospitals able to care for those who need it, our most vulnerable protected, and our worksites and businesses thriving,” Bever said. “We need to continue doing what’s working.”  Bever said what’s working is avoiding the three Cs: avoid crowded places, avoid close contact, avoid confined spaces. “We need to continue to wear masks that cover our noses and mouths, we need to stay home when we are sick, we need to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects, we need to wash our hands, and we need to get the COVID vaccine when it is our turn,” she said.

Residents can register to get the vaccine on the SHDHD website (www.southheartlandhealth.org) where there is a link to Nebraska’s vaccine registration system. Individuals will be notified when it is their turn to schedule an appointment. “We are not getting enough vaccine to fill the demand,” Bever said. “Please be patient. Every one in each phase can be vaccinated as soon as there is enough vaccine available.”

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