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Douglas County Health Department updates vaccine rollout

MMH to begin mass vaccinations next week
MMH to begin mass vaccinations next week
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 12:27 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Wednesday morning, the Douglas County Health Board got an update on the vaccine rollout efforts in the county.

The director of the Douglas County Health Department, Dr. Adi Pour, spoke to the board for more than an hour.

She first updated the board on the latest Coronavirus numbers in the county. Dr. Pour said more than 53% of the county population have been tested at least once. She said as of Wednesday, the positivity rate is 12%.

After peaking in November of 2020, Dr. Pour says the case count has decreased by 34% and the amount of tests have decreased by 17%.

“Less tests, but our positivity rate therefore decreased even further so that’s a good trend, we hope that’s what we’ll be seeing,” said Dr. Pour.

She said hospital rates are on the decline as well, though we have plateaued in recent weeks.

“I’m also hearing from hospital workers that they are seeing less COVID patients in the hospital,” she said.

There are currently 28 patients on ventilators. Dr. Pour says that’s a good number because it used to be 50 patients.

She also discussed the vaccine rollout in the county.

From the middle of December until the middle of January, doses went primarily to healthcare systems because they had the ultra-cold storage freezers. Dr. Pour says the healthcare system has now finished vaccinating its workforce, so all doses sent to Douglas County from the state will go to the health department, which decides where they go from there.

To date, the health department has transferred or administered 7,300 doses. Those doses went to healthcare workers and emergency responders. On Jan. 15 they got another 4,000 doses. Those are being administered this week through invite-only “closed clinics” for specific occupational groups in phase 1A, like pharmacists, dentists and school nurses.

Jan. 25 the health department expects to receive 6,650 doses of the vaccine from the state.

Dr. Pour says by the end of January or the beginning of February, they’ll be finished with phase 1A and will be able to start vaccinating people in tier 1 of phase 1B.

That group includes first responders, utility workers, homeless shelter staff, corrections staff and educators. It also includes people 65 and older and people 18 and older with high-risk medical conditions.

“It used to be 75 and above, and we had plans and knew exactly how many people that was. It was changed to include those 65 and above and those with high-risk medical conditions, so that added another 45,000 potentially,” said Dr. Pour.

Tier 2 of phase 1B includes funeral homes, groceries, and food processing plants. Tier 3 includes transportation, U.S. Postal Service, and public transit.

Those in the 65 and older category don’t fall into a certain tier, they’re able to get the vaccine throughout the duration of phase 1B.

“As you can imagine this is a large group that we need to start vaccinating with very small number of doses, 6,650,” said Dr. Pour.

Vaccinating the 65 and older age group could take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks. There is a website for people to sign up for notifications about vaccine availability.

The general population falls into Phase 2B.

As you’re getting vaccinated, Dr. Pour encourages you to take a picture of your vaccination card. She says too many people are losing their cards, which remind you of your next vaccination date, and which vaccine you were given. Remember, you have to get the same vaccine for your second dose.

Dr. Pour also mentioned the health department utilizing a group of 10 National Guard members whose sole job is to input all of the vaccination data from the county into the Nebraska Electronic Immunizations Registry. That must be done with 24 hours of each vaccine.

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