Health officials aim to target least vaccinated parts of Omaha

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 7:02 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With some of the traditional vaccination clinics prepared to shut down, the health department is shifting gears on how to reach the next segment of the population.

This is as Douglas County nears 50% of the eligible population to be vaccinated, but the disparities depend on where you live are still there.

The health director knows her team needs out-of-the-box ideas, that’s why yesterday she said, no idea is crazy when it comes to reaching people with the COVID vaccine.

For months, health experts and civic leaders knew they had an uphill climb to get people vaccinated in north and south Omaha. While zip codes in Elkhorn and Bennington have vaccinated 61% and 70% respectively.

Northeast Omaha zip codes are half of that, lagging at 26% and 27% of the residents getting the COVID shot. South Omaha isn’t much better at 28% and 29%.

“The history that people of color have with the medical system in the country, it made people pause a bit. It also didn’t help that we took Johnson & Johnson off the shelf for a while before we brought it back. I think people will come around quite frankly,” said Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray.

Councilman Gray is hopeful that this a temporary vaccine hesitancy. That as more people get the shot, the safety confidence will grow and it will pull older family members along for the ride.

The Douglas County Health Department plans to micro-target areas, even going door to door, church to church, business to business if they have to.

For some, it’s all about access and convenience.

“We know there is a barrier and we can work through getting info out. I think the more people who get the vaccine and spread the word that it is safe -- it will definitely help the South Omaha community,” said Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo.

Again, the health department is hoping small, more mobile clinics will make the difference.

For example, Dr. Pour said last weekend at a clinic at the NorthStar Foundation in north Omaha, they were hoping to vaccinate 500 people but they only vaccinated 76.

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