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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. 


FLU SHOTS NOW AVAILABLE IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT

Grand Island, NE – Flu shots have arrived at CDHD and we are encouraging everyone in the Central District to get ahead of this year’s seasonal flu virus by getting vaccinated now.

Yearly flu shots are recommended by the Center for Disease Control for everyone 6 months and older. CDHD currently offers flu shots including high dose flu shots for those 65 and older each week day.

“It’s not too early to start thinking about protection against influenza,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director, said. “With some signs pointing toward a resurgence in flu cases this year, it’s important to act now to protect yourself and your family.”

Flu season in the United States is considered October through May. It typically reaches its peak in February, when the weather is cold, and most people have been inside and in close contact with others for longer periods of time. The CDC encourages the public to get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in the community, with everyone being vaccinated ideally by the end of October. It is recommended those 65 and older, who are most susceptible to becoming very sick from the flu, be vaccinated starting now.

The flu vaccine is reformulated each year to be effective against the strains of the virus predicted to be most prevalent. Most insurance plans provide flu shots at no cost to the consumer. Additionally, CDHD has vaccine to provide to those without insurance at no cost.

In addition to the flu vaccine, CDHD has also received shipments of COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine that protects against both the initial strain and the currently circulating COVID-19 variant. It is acceptable to receive both vaccines at the same time.

CDHD is open from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays with Thursday clinics running until 6 pm. CDHD now provides curbside vaccinations through front row handicap parking along with a phone number to call upon arrival. For more information or questions on the flu or COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, please call (308) 385-5175 or see our website, www.cdhd.ne.gov.


“Updated Boosters” Approved For Use, Will Arrive Next Week

Grand Island, NE – As we move into the fall and winter seasons when a surge of COVID-19 is anticipated, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have just approved an “updated booster” designed to provide improved protection against COVID-19.

The new Pfizer and Moderna bivalent boosters are formulated to protect against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants as well as the original COVID-19 virus. Both the FDA and the CDC recommend that anyone seeking a booster wait and watch for the availability of the bivalent booster.

“Pausing boosters is a bit uncomfortable for us,” Teresa Anderson, Health Director of CDHD, said. “In public health, we never want to miss an opportunity to vaccinate, but we have been advised to ask people to wait until next week when we expect to receive the bivalent booster vaccine.”

Children ages 5-11 are eligible for the current Pfizer booster. The bivalent Moderna booster is approved for those age 18 and older and the Pfizer-BioNTech bivalent booster is approved for those age 12 and older. Bivalent boosters can be administered at least two months following a primary series or a booster vaccination. Influenza (flu) shots and COVID-19 vaccinations can be given at the same time. You can find more information about boosters at our website, www.cdhd.ne.gov or at this link

Please watch our social media for news of when the bivalent boosters will be available. CDHD encourages everyone to be up to date on all vaccines including COVID-19  and flu vaccines. Those who are more likely to become very sick from a COVID-19 infection include those with pre-existing medical conditions and the elderly.

If you have questions, please contact us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


WASTEWATER DATA SHOWS COVID-19 NUMBERS RISING

Grand Island, NE – Water samples taken from the Grand Island Water Treatment Facility for the week ending July 23rd shows a markedly higher weekly average concentration of COVID-19 at the facility than at any point this year.

Wastewater surveillance involves testing and monitoring wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 can serve as an early warning signal, track variants, and help direct resources for health departments. Each week, two to three samples are taken, and the average is calculated for trending purposes. See CDHD Wastewater Reports at: https://cdhd.ne.gov/covid-19/covid-19-clinics.html

“This steep increase means that we had a lot of COVID-19 virus in our community two weeks ago. The viral activity was definitely on the rise then and most likely is still quite high,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director, said. “We have home tests which are great tools for us, but we are no longer able to see actual numbers of positive cases. As the pandemic progressed, scientists determined that wastewater sampling is an exceptionally good indicator of viral activity.”  

The Nebraska Wastewater Surveillance System (NeWSS) is a collaboration between wastewater treatment facilities, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health, and Nebraska DHHS.

Reducing the spread of COVID-19 means staying home when not feeling well and testing using at home test kits. Vaccines remain the best way to protect against the worst symptoms of COVID-19, including potential hospitalization and death. In the past week, CDHD has started offering Novavax Vaccine to protect against COVID-19. Novavax is not an MRNA vaccine, like Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, but a protein-based vaccine much like Flu vaccine. CDHD is currently offering all three COVID-19 vaccines, and no longer offers the J&J vaccine.

CDHD is open from 8 am – 4:30 pm Mondays – Fridays and until 6 pm on Thursdays. We offer free at-home, digitally proctored COVID-19 tests at our front desks. In addition, Nomi Health offers drive thru COVID-19 testing from 8 am – 3 pm Mondays – Thursdays in the CDHD parking lot. For more information, please call us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.


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-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 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)

2021 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) are now available through CDC’s easy-to-use web-based tool.

Nineteen states and two territories have at least 35% of residents with adult obesity - more than doubling the number of states with a high obesity prevalence since 2018 - according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Today, CDC announced 5-year awards to five state public health departments. The awards will establish the Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE) network.

In 2019, less than half of children aged 2–16 years with sickle cell anemia received the recommended screening for stroke, a common complication of the disease, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.