Lincoln distributes first round of COVID-19 vaccines

Lincoln County healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents are receiving the first round of vaccines this week, according to Diane Miller, Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD) Director.

Miller said vaccinations began Tuesday.

“We just now started vaccinating staff and healthcare workers and then we will go and start vaccinating EMS (emergency medical services) in the morning,” Miller said. “The next tier will be the 70 and above age group, along with first responders like fire and law enforcement.”

The health department is hoping to get started with that second phase of vaccinations by the second or third week of February, Miller said.

“Our concentration right now is to vaccinate the healthcare workers, and of course, long-term care which the pharmacies are taking care of,” she said.

The first phase (Phase 1a) of healthcare workers includes: EMS, nurses and nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, phlebotomists and anyone else working in a healthcare setting.

“We’re looking at in-patient and out-patient, clinics, dentist offices, funeral home directors and their staff, and anyone that is a caregiver doing home visitations,” Miller said.

The next phase (Phase 1b) includes people aged 70 years or older, first responders such as firefighters, law enforcement officers and corrections officers, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, postal workers, grocery store workers, public transit workers and those who work in the educational sector.

“I just want to urge the public to be patient as we go through these phases,” Miller said. “We will get to the next phase just as soon as we complete the first phase.”

Lincoln County received the Moderna vaccine, which requires two separate shots about a month apart, Miller said.

Receiving the vaccine does not mean the public should discontinue wearing masks and social distancing, she added.

“The vaccine doesn’t take away the mask-wearing,” Miller said.

As of Tuesday the LCHD reported 233 active cases of the novel coronavirus and 41 cases that were waiting to be processed.

Miller said the health department is currently monitoring 66 household contacts and one new death has been sent to the state for review.

There were three people hospitalized due to the virus as of Tuesday.