The Federal Pharmacy Program announced last week will include three locations in the Panhandle. Alliance Community Pharmacy and Walmart in Chadron and Scottsbluff will be receiving the COVID vaccine. This is in addition to the current vaccine providers that have been offering COVID vaccines in the Panhandle.
The Walmart stores in Chadron and Scottsbluff will be using the coordinated Panhandle list by early March but in the meanwhile, they are taking registrations for people who are 65 and older. This can be accessed at walmart.com and using or creating an account.
They will be following the same vaccine timeline issued by Governor Ricketts with current eligibility being health care personnel, long-term care, and individuals 65 and older.
The Panhandle Public Health District Rick of COVID-19 Spread dial is unchanged from last week, remaining midway into the orange, or “High” level.
As of Monday afternoon, Dawes County had 695 total confirmed cases, Sioux County had 30, Sheridan County had 480 and Box Butte County had 897.
Chadron Public Schools reported no active cases, though 12 students and staff are quarantined. Chadron State College reported 16 active cases, 15 in students.
As for vaccinations, 8,604 or 13.1% of Panhandle adults have received the COVID vaccine. Health care personnel, long-term care, and those 65 and older are currently being vaccinated. This will take several more weeks. People who are fully COVID vaccinated will not be required to quarantine due to close contact.
Those who have had COVID are still encouraged to get the vaccine once they no longer have symptoms and achieved recovery status. Those who have received their first dose and have not heard when they will receive the second dose should not panic, as they will be contacted by the vaccine provider that administered the first dose.
Unified Command confirms 81 more cases of COVID in the Panhandle since last reporting on Monday, February 8. The investigations are underway, all close contacts will be quarantined.
Panhandle Public Health also reports that the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment may help COVID symptoms improve sooner and reduce hospitalizations.
When a person becomes infected with COVID, their body makes antibodies to fight off the virus. Monoclonal Antibody Treatment is a COVID neutralizing antibody treatment infusion that helps the body make enough antibodies to successfully fend off the virus while the body continues naturally making its own.
Receiving the treatment may help COVID symptoms improve sooner and make a hospital visit less likely by nearly a 70% reduction. The treatment is available at long-term care facilities and for the general population.
“This treatment should be administered as soon as possible after a positive COVID test, ideally within the first five days from symptoms starting. Don’t hesitate and don’t wait to contact your healthcare provider to see if you meet the criteria and before symptoms become severe,” said Kim Engel, Panhandle Public Health District Director.
She added, “With a case fatality rate higher than the state average, we must use all options necessary to fight this insidious virus.”
The infusion takes about three hours, and patients will be charged an outpatient administration fee but not charged for the medication. Improvements can be seen anywhere from one to three days after treatment. However, this does not shorten the length of time needed to stay isolated.
For those who received the Monoclonal Antibody Treatment, it is recommended they get the vaccine no sooner than 90 days after treatment.
Panhandle Public health is encouraging all Panhandle residents over the age of 18 that have not registered yet to please do so now at vaccinate.ne.gov or www.pphd.org. Registration is simple and takes less than a couple of minutes. Those who have already registered can rest assured they are on the list and do not need to register again.
If you need help registering, call either of these numbers: 833-998-2275 or 531-249-1873. The Spanish version will be coming soon.
COVID vaccinations are also available at the Scottsbluff Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) for veterans enrolled in the VA Health Care system. Vaccinations are by appointment only, no walk-ins. Call 308-225-5330 for appointment scheduling.