Changes coming to South Heartland Health Vaccine Clinics
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) executive director Michele Bever announced upcoming changes to the Hastings COVID-19 vaccine clinic and emphasized the importance of getting the bivalent booster to protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death from complications of COVID-19.
Bever said the location and hours of South Heartland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Hastings will be changing beginning in February. The clinic will be moved from the west end of Allen’s Grocery Store on West 2nd Street to the health department at 606 N. Minnesota in Hastings.
At the new location on Minnesota Avenue, SHDHD will be offering walk-in access to free COVID-19 vaccine primary series and bivalent boosters from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of February (February 8 and February 22).
For other locations offering COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.ne.gov, or call the health department office, 1-877-238-7595.
Bever emphasized the importance of staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. “Getting vaccinated and boosted greatly reduces your risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, as new variants continue to arise and spread,” she said.
A new variant called XBB.1.5 (sometimes referred to as the ‘Kraken’ variant) is spreading in the United States, averaging about 50 percent of the cases in the U.S., but varying widely state to state. Preliminary data from Nebraska’s Genomic Surveillance Report, shows that variant BQ.1.1 (31%), variant BA.5 (26%), and variant BQ.1 (21%) are the most common in Nebraska and less than 10 percent of Nebraska cases are variant XBB.1.5. However, CDC’s NOWCAST tracker shows that in some northeast states, the XBB.1.5 variant has taken over as the most common variant, at 85 percent or more of the cases.
Janis Johnson, RN, BSN, South Heartland’s Immunization Manager, said the ongoing virus mutations and recombinations leading to new variants means that it continues to be important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines, which are effective against known variants and are proven to be safe. “You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you complete a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and receive a bivalent booster dose. The vaccine helps protect you against getting seriously ill if you get infected,” she said.
Bever said 82 percent of the patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in December 2022 were unvaccinated or not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. Patients ranged in age from under 1 to over 90. Bever noted since the health department’s last COVID-19 update on December 29, the cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have surpassed the 12,000 mark (12,027 cases) for the health district and wastewater testing still shows virus at moderate levels as of January 17.
“Prevention is still our best way to reduce our risk of getting infected and getting very sick or needing hospitalization,” Bever said. “Help keep yourself and your family protected by practicing good hygiene and staying home when you are sick to reduce the spread of any respiratory illnesses. Most important of all, stay up-to-date on all of your vaccinations to reduce the spread of preventable illnesses,” she said.
For more information on COVID-19, or for locations offering COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 tests or influenza vaccine, refer to the SHDHD website, southheartlandhealth.ne.gov, or call the health department office, 1-877-238-7595.
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