Three Rivers Public Health District recommends adding the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots to holiday to-do lists.
Terra Uhing, Three Rivers Executive Director, said receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot is vital ahead of holiday gatherings. In the Three Rivers district, all adults 18 and older are now eligible for the booster. Those who received the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines should get a booster six months after initial vaccination and two months after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Boosters can be received through Three Rivers or at local doctor's offices, pharmacies or health departments.
Uhing said a booster is important because it adds an additional layer of protection from COVID-19. She said people who have already received the booster are asked to reach out to loved ones to encourage them to do the same.
“Check in on neighbors, loved ones and if they haven't had a booster, please help them get a booster,” she said. “We need to do anything we can do to try to get folks boosted before the holiday season.”
For those who have not yet gotten vaccinated, Uhing said the time is now as new COVID-19 cases continue to rise throughout the region. As of Dec. 10, Washington County had 85 new cases in the previous week and 165 new cases over the last 14 days.
Washington County residents have continued to consistently get vaccinated as additional age groups are approved for vaccination. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old. Uhing said the response to child vaccines has been encouraging.
“We had a vaccination clinic (Dec. 5) in Blair and it surpassed any expectation that I had,” she said. “The number of parents we've had calls from in Washington County has been a lot in the last three weeks and there seems to be a lot of interest (in the child vaccine).”
As of Dec. 10, 55.28% of the total Washington County population was fully vaccinated. Uhing said 68.27% of individuals ages 16 and older have gotten vaccinated.
Uhing said people of all ages should consider the vaccine, as unvaccinated individuals are showing the worst symptoms.
“From data here in Nebraska, unvaccinated 30-year-olds are filling up hospitals as fast as vaccinated 80-year-olds,” she said. “If you are unvaccinated, you are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized than a vaccinated individual.”
Unvaccinated or not, Uhing implored individuals to use caution as the holiday season approaches.
“People need to weigh the risk of what makes sense for their families but one thing people need to stand firm on is that if someone is sick, they need to stay home,” she said. “If you are sick, you need to stay home because we have really high transmission rates.
“Our hospital systems are strained and we want to do our part to keep that intact.”
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