NORFOLK, Neb. (KMTV) — Last fall, while COVID-19 cases peaked statewide, Norfolk had some of the highest case rates not only in the state but the entire country. Four months later, just like many other Nebraska cities, local leaders are focusing on vaccine roll out and want all eligible residents to sign up.
In Norfolk on Wednesday, the Elkhorn Logan Valley Health Department pushed the message of finding trusted sources on COVID and COVID vaccines to the community. It's part of the city's effort to get more residents vaccinated after a devastating peak in November.
Mayor Josh Moenning remembers the toll that took on his town.
"Madison County was one of the hotspots in the nation, not just Nebraska,” he said. “Nebraska, at the time, was a hotspot itself so we were a hotspot within a hotspot which wasn't a good place to be."
The city got over that hump and is now focused on vaccination efforts with educational events like the one held at the Norfolk Public Library Thursday. The sessions are geared for those unsure of the science or safety behind the vaccines. Translators were available to help non-English speakers sign up for vaccinations as well as ask questions about effectiveness.
The Elkhorn Logan Valley Health Department is getting around 15,000 vaccines from the state to distribute to the four counties it serves. Sometimes, at the end of the week, some vaccine is left over.
"A couple of weeks ago, we lined up a couple of businesses who were willing to let us come in,” said Melanie Thompson, the Emergency Response Coordinator for the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department. “Even then, we didn't have them all done. So we put out a notice on Facebook that we would take the first 120 people who came to our office here in Norfolk and gave those shots...didn't matter their age. Is that ideal...no, because we're not hitting our target audience. We're only hitting people who happen to be on Facebook at the time. To me, it's better than dumping them down the drain."
Educational sessions like the one held on Wednesday will hopefully boost interest, said Thompson.
About a fourth of the population the health department serves has been vaccinated already. It hopes to get some permanent vaccination clinics up and running soon as vaccination efforts continue.