Lincoln, NE (April 16, 2021) – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) have confirmed that the South Africa variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.351 has arrived in the state. The initial case has been identified as a Lancaster County resident. An investigation is underway and ongoing. It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective, although some bench studies show higher levels of antibodies are required to neutralize B.1.351 than other strains.
Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone said, “Nebraska has done a great job with its vaccination rollout. 70% of residents 65 and older are fully vaccinated and that percentage is continuing to increase. This pandemic can only be slowed through vaccination and employing mitigation efforts such as masking and distancing. Now that the vaccine is available to anyone 16 or older, we all should get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
A total of 291 of these variants of concern have been identified in the state. To date, 234 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant, 54 cases of the B1.427/B1.429 variant, 1 of B1.526, and 2 cases of the P1 variant have been identified in Nebraska.
To date just over 35% of Nebraskans are fully vaccinated. As the State is now in Phase 2B, which means anyone 16 and older can get vaccinated, there are several options available. Register at Vaccinate.Ne.Gov , or with your local health district, or check with area pharmacies that may be scheduling appointments. Those registered will be alerted when a vaccine is available in their priority group and health district.
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