Air the tires, change the oil, get a shot -- Let's not turn Memorial Day into a super spreader event

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

There’s always something special about Memorial Day, one of the first official outdoor events of the summer. We take a few minutes that day to listen to a speech at the cemetery, wince at the first round from the firing squad, shed a tear at the grave of a relative or friend.

Then, thanks to the sacrifice of those we’ve honored, we enjoy the freedom of a day off at the lake, at home around the barbecue or visiting relatives.

This Memorial Day has the potential to extra special as we are released from the COVID quarantine that kept most of us home last year.

AAA expects more than 37 million people to travel 50 miles or more between May 27 and May 31, a 60% increase from last year, when only 23 million traveled, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000.

Nearly 3 million people in the West North Central Region (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North and South Dakota) are expected to travel over the weekend, a 56% increase over last year, when over 1.9 million traveled. The year before, a record 3.6 million took a trip during the holiday.

But the threat of infection still exists, and the joy of reconnecting with friends and relatives could be dashed with the knowledge that we have may have caused a friend or loved one to become sick.

Fortunately, Nebraska is on track to have more than half of us “fully vaccinated” long before the Memorial Day holiday.

As of Monday, nearly 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Nebraska, with over 701,510 residents having completed vaccination, representing 47.3% of residents 16 years of age and older.

The state is currently vaccinating all Nebraskans 16 years of age and older. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those aged 16 years and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccines have been approved for those aged 18 years and older. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots; Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.

And, on Monday, the Food and Drug Administration declared that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and offers strong protection for 12- to 15-year-olds, based on testing of more than 2,000 U.S. volunteers ages 12 to 15. The FDA noted there were no cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated adolescents compared with 16 among kids given dummy shots. Researchers even found that kids developed higher levels of virus-fighting antibodies than earlier studies measured in young adults.

Side effects such as sore arms, flu-like fever, chills or aches were similar to those reported in adults, especially after the second shot.

There’s still time to become fully vaccinated by the Memorial Day holiday if you act now.

In McCook, vaccines are available at the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department in McCook, 308-345-4223; Farrell’s Pharmacy, 308-345-1781; Red Willow County Health Department, 308-345-1790; U-Save Pharmacy, 308-345-5670; or Walmart Pharmacy, 308-345-7024.

In Chase County, contact Adams Drug, 308-882-4949; Chase County Clinic, 308-992-7299; Myrtle Health, 308-883-0601. Dundy County, Dundy County Hospital/Quality Healthcare Clinic, 308-423-2151 and ask for Nicole.

In Furnas County, contact Mark’s Pharmacy, 308-697-3400; Tri-Valley Health, 308-697-3329.

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