State officials Wednesday reported the first known death in Nebraska of a person who had been fully vaccinated.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release that a woman in her 80s with underlying medical conditions developed COVID-19 and was hospitalized more than 14 days after completing a vaccination series with the Pfizer vaccine. She was a resident of Two Rivers Health District, which is based in Kearney.
The woman's death is the only one identified so far in a Nebraska resident who was considered fully vaccinated against the disease. As of Wednesday morning, nearly 680,000 people in the state are fully vaccinated.
Nationally, there have been 112 documented deaths out of more than 95 million people who have been fully vaccinated.
“We are saddened to learn of this occurrence," Nebraska's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone said.
Anthone pointed out that while there were no deaths identified in clinical trials for the vaccine, "we understand that no vaccine or medication is 100% effective when used by millions of people. This does not negate the importance of vaccination and all of the positive effects of vaccination."
The vaccines have been extremely effective, especially at preventing people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19. As of last week, there had been 287 documented cases of people getting COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated. In one notable case, there was an outbreak at a nursing home in Kearney in which 23 vaccinated residents tested positive for the disease. However, only two of them showed any symptoms, and in both cases, they were mild.
The pace of vaccinations statewide has slowed sharply over the past couple of weeks, with slightly more than 70,000 people receiving a shot last week, down from more than 200,000 just two weeks prior. Overall, about 46% of the population 16 and older statewide is fully vaccinated, and another 11% are partially vaccinated.
The level of vaccinations so far appears to be playing a role in the drop in cases and deaths, with the Department of Health and Human Services noting that Nebraska's weekly deaths due to COVID-19 appear to be the lowest they’ve been since March 2020 and vaccines have likely played the biggest role in the steep decline.
Gov. Pete Ricketts on Wednesday also credited vaccines with declines in cases, deaths and hospitalizations.
"So we encourage people to get the vaccines," he said. "They work."
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