For those of us who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the experience has brought a feeling of relief. We know we have done what we need to do to protect ourselves and others. As long as we wear a mask in crowded places and practice social distancing as much as possible, we can feel confident that we will remain healthy.
In the Central District Health Department area of Hall, Merrick and Hamilton counties, as of Thursday, about 18,500 people had been fully vaccinated. Across the state, 626,278, or 42.3% of those age 16 and older, are fully vaccinated.
But that’s still not good enough.
Those who have received their first shot will get the second one soon, but the numbers of people who are getting vaccinated are declining locally and across the state, even though the CDHD hasn’t even reached 30%.
Our health district has been doing everything it can to get us protected, but as the number of sick people has been dropping, many also have been lulled into thinking that the virus isn’t a threat anymore.
That’s not the case.
There still are about 670 people dying per day across the United States because of COVID-19. More than 575,000 people have died in the U.S. since the pandemic began.
As of Friday morning, more than 99 million Americans, or over 38% of all adults, have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 55% of adults had received at least one dose. Those percentages are a lot higher than the Central District’s.
Just like we are urged each year to get a flu shot so we don’t have to deal with that disease that can be deadly but poses much less of a threat than COVID-19, the CDHD continues to urge that everyone get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Health departments across the state have started offering more walk-in clinics for the shots instead of requiring appointments to make it easier to get vaccinated. That has been the case for the past month in the Central District. The vaccine also is available at pharmacies in our area and across the state through the federal retail pharmacy program.
The process at the weekly vaccine clinic on Thursdays at the Community Fieldhouse in Grand Island is simple. You walk in, get your shot and leave within a half hour.
State health officials continue to urge Nebraskans to sign up for a shot online at vaccinate.ne.gov. If you are registered, that makes the process go much more smoothly when you go to get a shot.
The goal remains to come out on the other side of the pandemic and reach a point when so many people are vaccinated that we can be confident to return to going out in public without masks.
But we aren’t there yet.