Changes coming to South Heartland Health vaccine clinics

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) — South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) Executive Director Michele Bever announced upcoming changes to the Hastings COVID-19 vaccine clinic and stressed importance of getting bivalent booster to protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death from complications of COVID-19.

Bever said the location and hours of the South Heartland COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Hastings would change from February. The clinic will be moved from the western end of Allen’s Grocery Store on West 2nd Street to the Health Department at 606 N. Minnesota in Hastings.

At its new location on Minnesota Avenue, SHDHD will offer walk-in access to the free COVID-19 vaccine primary series and bivalent booster packs from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of February (February 8 and February 22 ).

For other locations offering the COVID-19 vaccine in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties, refer to the SHDHD website,, or call the Department of Health office, 1-877-238-7595 .

Bever stressed the importance of staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. “Getting vaccinated and boosted greatly reduces the risk of serious illness, hospitalization and death, as new variants continue to emerge and spread,” she said.

A new variant called XBB.1.5 (sometimes referred to as the “Kraken” variant) is spreading in the United States, averaging about 50 percent of cases in the United States, but varying widely from state to state. Preliminary data from the Nebraska Genomic Surveillance Report show that the BQ.1.1 variant (31%), the BA.5 variant (26%) and the BQ.1 variant (21%) are the most common in Nebraska and less than 10 % of Nebraska cases are XBB.1.5 variant. However, the CDC’s NOWCAST tracker shows that in some northeastern states, the XBB.1.5 variant has become the most common variant, accounting for 85% or more of the cases.

Janis Johnson, RN, BSN, South Heartland’s Immunization Manager, said ongoing virus mutations and recombinations leading to new variants mean it continued to be important to stay up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccines, which are effective against known variants and are proven to be safe. “You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines when you complete a primary series of COVID-19 vaccines and receive a bivalent booster dose. The vaccine helps protect you from becoming very ill if you get infected,” she said.

Bever said 82% of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in December 2022 were either unvaccinated or out of date on their COVID-19 vaccines. The patients ranged in age from less than 1 to more than 90 years. Bever noted since the Health Department’s last COVID-19 update on Dec. 29, confirmed cumulative cases of COVID-19 infection have surpassed 12,000 (12,027 cases) for the Health District, and wastewater testing still shows the virus is at moderate levels as of January 17.

“Prevention is still our best way to reduce the risk of getting infected and becoming seriously ill or needing hospitalization,” Bever said. “Help protect yourself and your family by practicing good hygiene and staying home when you are sick to reduce the spread of any respiratory illnesses. Above all, stay up to date on all your vaccinations to reduce the spread of preventable diseases,” she said.

For more information about COVID-19 or for locations offering the COVID-19 vaccine, COVID-19 testing, or flu shot, refer to the SHDHD website,, or call the Department of Health office , 1-877-238-7595.

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