Douglas County opens COVID-19 vaccines to age 16 and older

DCHD: ‘We are in a race to get people vaccinated’
Published: Apr. 4, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A massive push is launching to get as many people in Douglas County vaccinated as possible, the health department opening up vaccinations to those 16 and older starting no later than Monday morning.

“We are in a race to get people vaccinated because you know nationally and even statewide we’ve plateaued and started to see an increase in cases,” Douglas County Health Department spokesman Phil Rooney said.

There was a 64% increase in COVID cases last week among those between the ages of 40 and 59, compared to the previous week; and a 58% jump among people between the ages of 20 and 39.

“Well, I think that got everyone’s attention,” Rooney said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”

The county wants to be ready for what could be an onslaught as hundreds of thousands more people become eligible for the shot.

“We have a lot of people staffing the phone lines tomorrow because we know there could be a backup,” said Rooney. The health department’s asking people to book appointments on their website; set to open up to those 16 and older no later than 9 a.m. Monday.

“We know that there are more appointments that have been loaded into the system in there, so people will be able to book that and we have other clinics opening up around the community so we think we’ll be able to hand it,” said Rooney.

David Hendry, 58, received the COVID-19 vaccine Sunday at a mass clinic in Omaha.

“As long as they get the seniors done, and the vets, and the needy done, that’s all that matters,” he said.

Health officials are confident they can start vaccinating those younger, without leaving behind those older and more vulnerable.

“We do have our data that shows that a very good percentage of those individuals have been vaccinated at this point,” said Rooney. “So there will be some more targeted efforts for those and they do remain eligible so we will get them in.”

In the meantime, the focus is on getting as many people protected as possible. “We will see how it flows out,” said Rooney. “But there are other clinic opportunities coming up so we’ll be able to take care of a lot of people here pretty quickly.”

As of late Sunday night, it appeared the Douglas County Health Department has opened registration to those 16 and older; 6 News was able to walk through the steps to register in that age group prior to the 10 p.m. newscast.

Rooney said Monday that registration may have opened early to avoid crashing the DCHD website this morning.

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