A dose of data: Lancaster County’s COVID vaccine rollout

More than half of people in Lancaster County have rolled up their sleeves and gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 8:55 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -More than half of people in Lancaster County have rolled up their sleeves and gotten a COVID-19 vaccine. 10/11 NOW requested data showing how those vaccines have been distributed since that first shipment arrived in December 2020.

A lot has changed since the health department was holding large vaccine clinics at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Lancaster Event Center and Speedway Village, when 184,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given between just February and May of 2021.

“I’m really, really pleased that we’ve been able to get life-saving vaccines out to so many people and that our community has responded to receive it,” said Pat Lopez, Health Director of LLCHD.

As of Tuesday, 68% of Lancaster County is vaccinated against the virus with the health department distributing 245,146 vaccines since the rollout first began, roughly half a million total doses.

Throughout 2022, the number of vaccines administered has waned. The average number of doses given per month this year so far is 2,600, compared to an average of 18,000 per month in 2021. Lopez said this is for two reasons. First, they’ve reached so many people already, and second, they’re focused on trying to get those initial doses out and every day they have a few more receiving it for the first time.

The county dashboard shows in July, about 1,300 people received a COVID-19 vaccine for the first time. Lopez said there are certain groups of people the health department is focused on these days, including the nearly 50% of people who haven’t gotten a booster yet and those who are older than 50 and eligible for a second booster.

“It will prevent them from serious illness and hospitalizations,” Lopez said. “I think some people feel that having the initial series is enough, but we we’re learning it really is key.”

Another group they’re focused on is young kids between six months and five years old who are newly eligible. The county is holding clinics at pediatricians’ offices specifically for this age group.

“We’re able to offer privacy in a private exam room, parents can ask questions about having their child immunized,” Lopez said “It’s a different approach.”

Overall, Lopez said the county has done extremely well with the vaccine and the shots have allowed more normalcy during the pandemic than we would have had without.

“It’s prevented deaths, it’s reduced illnesses and hospitalizations,” Lopez said. “Those are very real things we can look at. When I say life-saving, I really mean life-saving.”

10/11 NOW also requested data showing how many doses have been unused and thrown out by the county. The data shows 3,500 doses have been thrown out. That’s 1.4% of the total doses allocated to the department.

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