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The Central District Health Department works hard to provide the most accurate and up to date information available. If you have questions on any of the pieces presented here please contact us at (308) 385-5175. 


CDHD ORDERS NOVAVAX COVID-19 VACCINES

Grand Island, NE – CDHD is adding Novavax to its toolbox of vaccines to battle COVID-19. Novavax vaccine has been given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. It is approved as a two-shot primary series to protect against COVID-19 but cannot be used as a booster shot.

Novavax is a COVID-19 vaccine that is different from previously approved and authorized vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in that it does not utilize MRNA technology but is a protein-based vaccine, like other vaccines that have been used for decades. Vaccines such as those for hepatitis and shingles utilize protein-based technology similar to that used in the Novavax vaccine.

“Some of the hesitation we heard surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine had to do with MRNA technology,” Teresa Anderson, Health Director for CDHD, said. “While MRNA has proven to be safe and effective, the Novavax vaccine provides another option. Vaccination rates continue to be low in the Central District and we hope this prompts some hesitant folks to get vaccinated.”

The Novavax vaccine has been shown to be effective against Omicron subvariants of COVID-19 which are more transmissible than strains seen in 2019 when the disease first emerged. Any vaccination is going to protect from the worst outcomes of COVID-19 including long COVID, hospitalization and death. CDHD recommends keeping up to date on all vaccinations and seeking booster doses as soon as eligible.

Doses of the Novavax vaccines are available at CDHD starting Tuesday, August 2nd.  And no appointment is necessary. CDHD will stop providing doses of the J&J vaccine starting on Monday, August 1st. We are open from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays.

COVID-19 testing is available through Nomi Health from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Thursdays and free at-home COVID tests at our front desk. For more information call (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


Despite Current Dry Conditions Mosquitoes & Threat Of WNV Are Still Present

Grand Island – Even with the dry conditions across the state, CDHD is urging residents to take precautions against mosquitoes and West Nile Virus (WNV).  This reminder is not only for our residents, but also for horse owners as well.

“Mosquito Numbers are fairly low at this time due to the dry conditions,” says Jeremy Collinson, Environmental Health Supervisor.  “However, caution needs to be taken when outdoors as mosquitoes are present”.

The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.

-When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET. Follow the directions on the package.

-Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.

-Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

-Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty, and on their sides, when they are not being used.

West Nile Virus vaccine for horses. 
Horse owners should consult their veterinarians regarding its use. The vaccine shots are no value if they aren't given prior to exposure to the disease. If the horse develops WNV it is too late for the shot. The vaccines require two doses, administered three to six weeks apart, and full protection doesn't develop until four to six weeks after the second dose. Sometimes a third does is recommended. Boosters are recommended, but recommendations vary and depend upon mosquito infestation where you live.

It can take from 7 to 12 weeks for the horse to develop maximum resistance to infection. 

The most common signs of WNV infection in horses include stumbling, un-coordination, weak limbs, partial paralysis, muscle twitching and in some cases, death. Fever has occurred in less than one fourth of all confirmed equine cases. The incubation period is between 5 and 15 days from the date of the mosquito bite. As always, consult your veterinarian about vaccinating your equine.

For more information call CDHD at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


COVID NUMBERS REMIAN A CONCERN FOR 4TH OF JULY WEEKEND

Grand Island, NE – Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties saw over 90 new COVID-19 cases over the last 7 days, with a test positivity rate of 64%. Taken in conjunction with numbers from the Grand Island Wastewater Surveillance Report, CDHD advises the public to take precautions over the long weekend to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to the Nebraska Wastewater Surveillance Program, Grand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant has seen an uptick in the amount of COVID in the wastewater starting on June 17th. Wastewater levels are one of the tools public health professionals use to determine risk of COVID-19 in an area. You can see the full report at www.cdhd.ne.gov.

The CDC reports that Merrick and Hamilton Counties are at low COVID-19 community levels. Hall County has returned to the moderate COVID-19 community level after being at the low level last week.

Health Director Anderson states “It is important to know that immunity wanes over time whether you have been vaccinated or whether you have had COVID-19,” adding “Staying up to date on vaccinations, including booster doses, even if you have had COVID continues to be the best way to reduce your risk.”

Keep these safety measures in mind while celebrating the Independence Day holiday.

-Get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. The vaccine is the best way to reduce the worst effects of COVID or avoid it all together. Shots are now available for children aged 6-months and older. A second booster shot is recommended for those 50 and older. We anticipate the CDC will recommend additional boosters this fall.

-Spending time outside greatly lessens your chances of contracting the virus. If you are at gatherings with large numbers of people, try to spend time outdoors, if possible.

-If you are suffering from COVID like symptoms including fever, sore throat, fatigue or shortness of breath, please stay home to avoid making others sick.

-Test yourself if you feel sick or have come into contact with a COVID positive person. Free at home COVID tests are available at CDHD (1137 South Locust Street in Grand Island) or in several locations across the district. Log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov for more information.

-If you test positive for COVID, you may be eligible for antiviral drugs that will reduce the severity and length of your illness. Contact your health care provider for more information.

We update our COVID-19 dashboard on Mondays and Thursday weekly but there will be no update Monday due to the 4th of July holiday. CDHD will be closing at 2 pm on Friday, July 1 and remain closed through Monday, July 4 for the holiday. For more information call us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


COVID-19 Vaccine Now Available For Children 6 Months And Up

Grand Island, NE – Children ages 6 months and up are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention unanimously voted for an Emergency Use Authorization on Saturday. This change means that over 17 million children across the United States can now be protected against the worst symptoms of COVID-19.

Central District Health Department has received both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine for children as young as 6 months. The Pfizer vaccine is administered as a primary series of three doses, while the Moderna vaccine is a primary series of two doses.

“Many parents have been waiting for this news and we are glad to be able to provide vaccination for their children,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director said. “We are here to answer questions from parents who are uncertain about these vaccines, and we encourage parents to talk to their child’s health care provider about any concerns they may have.” With COVID-19 numbers in our community rising recently, this news comes at a great time.

While COVID vaccines have been available for ages 5 and older for some time, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration spent considerable time and effort in evaluating both the effectiveness and the safety of these vaccines in very young children. The agencies analysis of the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines was rigorous and comprehensive. You can learn more about their research here.

Currently in the Central District, just over 50% the population has received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It is the hope that with this authorization, parents will choose to protect their children from this virus and increase the vaccination rate in our area.

CDHD hosts vaccine clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. Nomi Health also offers COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Thursdays. Free at home COVID-19 tests are also available. For more information, please contact us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


COVID-19 NUMBERS INCREASE, CDHD ORDERS VACCINES FOR CHILDREN

Grand Island, NE – Indicators across the Central District including test positivity rates, wastewater testing and lab confirmed cases show an across-the-board increase in COVID-19. CDHD advises the public to be alert to the virus symptoms and take additional action to keep our community safe and limit further spread of COVID-19.

Over the last 7 days, there have been 160 lab confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick Counties with a test positivity rate of 49%. With many at-home tests not providing data to health authorities, the number of positive tests is likely much higher. In addition, the Grand Island Wastewater Surveillance Report done by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, shows the highest amount of COVID-19 viral shedding since late January of this year.

 According to the CDC, Hall County is now at “High” Community Level with a reported 7-day case rate of 269/100,000 and a 37.5% increase in case numbers in the last 7 days. Hamilton County is at “Medium” Community Level with a 7-day reported case rate of 150/100,000 and a 75% increase in the last 7 days. Merrick County is at “Medium Community Level” with a reported 7-day case rate of 90/100,000 and a 75% increase in the past 7 days.

“Once again our numbers are headed in the wrong direction,” states CDHD Health Director Teresa Anderson, adding “We know that people who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations typically have less serious cases. As long as the virus continues to circulate, we will see new variants emerge and we will see additional surges over time.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 tracker, vaccination rates in the Central District hover around 50% or lower for those who have received at least one dose. CDC recommends that all age 5 and older receive a booster dose to prevent more serious symptoms of the virus which may lead to hospitalization, “long COVID” symptoms and possible death. This week, CDHD placed orders for Pfizer and Moderna “Tender Care” COVID-19 pediatric vaccines for ages 6 months to 5 years in anticipation of CDC approval next week.

You can get your COVID-19 vaccination at most pharmacies across the Central District or at the Health Department. We offer vaccine clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mon - Fri with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. We offer also free at-home COVID tests. Nomi Health continues to provide no cost drive-thru testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mon – Thurs.

You can find wastewater reports, total COVID-19 numbers and much more information on dealing with COVID-19 at www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175 with questions.


COVID-19 BOOSTER RECOMMENDATION UPDATED AS NUMBERS RISE

Grand Island, NE – As COVID-19 numbers begin to tick up in the Central District, the Center for Disease Control has updated recommendations on who should receive COVID-19 vaccine booster shots and when.

The changes to booster recommendations include:

·         All children ages 5-11-years-old should now receive a booster vaccine 5 months after completing their primary series.

·         Children ages 5-11-years-old who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should receive a booster 3 months after completing their primary series.

·         Only the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is authorized and recommended for children 5 through 17 years old.  

·         Parents with questions are encouraged to talk to their child’s healthcare provider, school nurse, or local pharmacist to learn more about the booster, and the importance of keeping children up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

In addition, those 50 years and older who received any COVID-19 booster dose—as well as moderately or severely immunocompromised persons  age 12 years and older should is receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. You can find out more information at the CDC website.

These recommendations come on the heels of the third straight week of increased COVID-19 numbers in the Central District. After a several month period of low cases and transmission, 80 total cases were reported in the last 7 days with a test positivity rate of 33 percent. Vaccination provides both the most effective and longest lasting protection against the worst symptoms of COVID-19, which include severe fatigue, cough, lung damage and “long Covid” where symptoms persist long past the initial infection.

CDHD offers vaccine clinics from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. No appointment is necessary, and no one is turned away. In addition, we offer COVID-19 testing through Nomi Health from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Thursdays at our drive through location, 1137 South Locust Street in Grand Island. At home COVID-19 tests are also available. For more information please call (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


Free Radon Test Kits Available For Your Home

Grand Island – CDHD is offering free Radon test kits to everyone in the Central District with the goal of reducing exposure to this dangerous gas that can be found in homes. Thanks to a grant from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, these tests are available from our office free of charge.

Radon is a colorless odorless gas, you can’t see, smell, or taste but that is present in some homes.

A naturally occurring radioactive gas, Radon has been identified as a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to cigarette smoking, in the United States. The EPA’s most recent health risk assessment estimates that 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year are due to radon.

Radon comes from the natural decay of uranium that is found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground to the air above and then into your home through cracks and other holes in the foundation. Your home traps radon inside, where it may build-up. Any home can have a radon problem including both new and old homes, well-sealed and drafty homes, and homes with or without basements.

The only way to know whether radon exists at elevated levels, which is at or above 4 pCi/L (pico curies per liter), in your home, is to test for it. Children may be at an increased risk for health complications because their lungs are not fully developed and the sensitive tissues in their lungs are more vulnerable. Smokers, if exposed to radon, face a lung cancer risk 15 times greater than that of non-smokers.

All tests distributed as part of this grant include postage paid envelopes and free lab analysis and include short-term detectors, which are used for 3-7 days, provide quick screening measurements, and indicate potential radon problems and long-term detectors can be left in place for fourteen days to one year.  These kits provide the advantage of seasonal change which may impact radon levels.  Both detectors are usually placed in main living areas on the lowest level of the home.

Kits can be picked up free of charge at the Central District Health Department at 1137 S. Locust Street in Grand Island and can be picked up from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Friday and until 6 pm on Thursdays.  If you have any questions please call 308-385-5175.


Grand Island, NE – Two new medications to treat COVID-19 have arrived in the Central District and are free with a prescription.to those who have tested positive for the virus.

Paxlovid from Pfizer and Molnupiravir from Merck have both been given Emergency Use Authorization status by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19. If you have a positive COVID test and take either of these medications with in 5 days after you first notice symptoms, these medications can prevent some of the worst effects of the virus, including hospitalization and death. These medications are particularly aimed at those at higher risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19 and include two pills taken each day for 5 days.

These medications, which must be prescribed by a medical professional, are available to be filled at the following locations:

-Super Saver 5 Points in Grand Island
-U-Save 4th Street and U-Save North West in Grand Island
-Memorial Community Health Clinic in Aurora
-Merrick Medical in partnership with Jim’s U-Save in Central City

These medications are free to the patient as part of a National program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you test positive for COVID, please talk with your medical professional of choice to see if you could benefit from these medications.

While Paxlovid and Molnupiravir work well for those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine and those who have not, vaccination remains the best way to prevent becoming very sick with COVID-19. CDHD offers no cost COVID-19 vaccinations from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays. Nomi Health also offers COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Fridays and from 8 am – 11:30 am on Saturdays. For more information visit www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175.


Novel Coronavirus (2019-CoV)

Hepatitis C can cause advanced liver disease, liver cancer, and death and affects millions in the United States. Yet, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report, less than a third of people diagnosed with hepatitis C get timely treatment for this curable infection. Join us to learn more about the barriers to hepatitis C treatment and what can be done to save lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Task Force for Global Health will co-host in person the 11th <a href="https://www.iceid.org/">International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID)</a> August 7-10, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta hotel in Atlanta, GA.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified for the first time in domestic environmental samples the bacteria that causes a rare and serious disease called <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/melioidosis/index.html">melioidosis</a>. The bacteria, <em>Burkholderia pseudomallei </em>or<em> B. pseudomallei</em>, was identified through sampling of soil and water in the Gulf Coast region of Mississippi.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is pleased to announce two winners of the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/state-local-programs/reach/reach-lark-award/index.html">2022 REACH Lark Galloway-Gilliam Award for Advancing Health Equity Challenge</a>. The winners are Thamara Labrousse from Live Healthy Miami Gardens (Florida) and Healthy Savannah (Georgia).