Lancaster County leads state in vaccinations… except for college-age “ghost population”
The numbers look good, even with a noticeable dip for young people in the 16-24 age group.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department already had close ties with all sorts of groups throughout the community, well before COVID hit. That made things much easier once things did start to change here.
“When the pandemic started”, recalls LLCHD Director Pat Lopez, “we called everyone together and started working and developing strategies for how we were going to outreach to the community.”
Part of the outreach puzzle was testing. A part was vaccinations. Another part was making sure different cultures were informed. Yet another part was working on all of those components as they related to people who weren’t able to leave their homes.
“There’s all kinds of needs that different people have”, says Lopez. “Just being able to understand all those needs, that’s part of what we do in public health. I think that helped.”
That work and understanding added up to give us some pretty good-looking numbers today.
“Almost 66 percent of our entire community is fully vaccinated, and another 70 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated”, says Lopez.
Those numbers are so good that they’re higher than anywhere else in the state. If you compare the percentage of people vaccinated per age group to Douglas County, for example, you’ll see Lancaster is higher in every category, with one exception. Younger people, hovering around the age of 18, seem to be on the low side here. But Lopez says that isn’t the full story.
“The university population is frequently added to our numbers, but we do not have access, in the immunization system, to anyone who is not vaccinated in Lancaster County”, Lopez explains.
It leaves these college students as a sort of “ghost group”. They’re seen, but not recorded. However, it can be assumed then that the number of vaccinated young people is a bit more in line with the rest of the chart, even with concerns about young adults not feeling compelled to get vaccinated.
From here, the goal is to continue the vaccination push and to remind people about their booster shots, if they’re eligible. If the numbers hold, Lancaster County may be up top once again.