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COVID-19 vaccines for children for the Two Rivers district expected to be available in couple weeks
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COVID-19 vaccines for children for the Two Rivers district expected to be available in couple weeks

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KEARNEY — By early November, pediatric COVID vaccines for ages 5-12 are expected to be available through the Two Rivers Public Health Department.

Details are still being worked out, but the Food and Drug Administration likely will approve the vaccine soon. Parents can begin registering their children for the shots now at vaccinate.ne.gov, said Katherine Mulligan, planning section supervisor for Two Rivers, on Friday.

At first, the state will receive just 65,100 doses for Nebraska’s 186,576 kids aged 5-12, or enough to vaccinate 35% of them, Mulligan said.

“(Two Rivers) won’t keep every dose of vaccine; we will work with hospitals and medical providers to give a fair allotment,” she said. “We will work with anyone who wants to provide a vaccine, but we do understand that can be a lot to take on.”

Medical providers who want to administer the pediatric vaccine can register through Two Rivers, Mulligan said.

Also coming soon are booster shots for any adult who has gotten two doses of any COVID-19 vaccine — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. This fall, boosters became available for people who got the Pfizer vaccine, but that soon will be expanded to anyone.

Meanwhile, COVID remains active in the seven counties in the Two Rivers area. “Average daily numbers are down a smidge, and the seven-day rolling average of cases is moving in the right direction, but the positivity rate is still pretty high, so we’re still in the pandemic level on the risk dial,” Puckett said.

That risk dial was issued Thursday. Most people testing positive are age 39 and younger, she added.

Of the 30 ICU beds in the seven counties, COVID-19 patients were using eight of those beds, and just two were available as of Friday morning. Overall, 30 adult COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, with two more adults being tested for COVID. No children are currently hospitalized with COVID in the district.

As of Friday morning, CHI Health Good Samaritan and Kearney Regional Medical Center each had 10 COVID patients, with five on ventilators at KRMC. Good Sam did not release ventilator figures.

She added that 11 patients are on ventilators in Two Rivers hospitals, as many as were on ventilators during last November’s COVID surge. “Those people require a tremendous amount of care,” Puckett said.

She added that “Nurses are legitimately tired. Hospital staffing has gone down in ICU units, and that’s part of our dilemma. Nurses are burned out. They’re not available.”

As of midnight, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services removed data about the number of COVID cases across the state, as ordered by Gov. Pete Ricketts, but according to the New York Times, cases in the seven Two Rivers counties, from Oct. 15-21, numbered, roughly:

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Buffalo: 140

Dawson: 72

Phelps: 35

Franklin: 7

Kearney: 9

Gosper: 9

Franklin: 7

Harlan: 7

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 was the nation’s second largest cause of death in U.S. in September, behind only heart disease. Daily COVID-19 deaths averaged 1,899 per day nationwide.

Other topics mentioned:

— A gastrointestinal illness called norovirus is spreading among restaurants, long-term care facilities and child care facilities. Puckett reminded the public to wash their hands frequently, especially before meals.

—Two Rivers administers free COVID-19 tests at the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, 3807 Ave. N, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Two Rivers asks for insurance information, but people without insurance will also be tested. Register at trphd.org.

— People who have had COVID can receive COVID vaccines only after they have fully recovered. “We don’t want anyone coming who still feels poorly after having COVID,” Mulligan said.

maryjane.skala@kearneyhub.com

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