A Nebraska woman in her 80s who contracted COVID-19 after she was fully vaccinated against the disease has died, state officials said Wednesday.
The woman, who had underlying medical conditions, developed COVID and was hospitalized more than 14 days after being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said.
The woman lived in the area covered by the Two Rivers Public Health Department, a seven-county public health district in south-central Nebraska that is based in Kearney.
The woman is the first fully vaccinated person to die of COVID in Nebraska, HHS said in a press release. Her death represents .04% of the 2,244 people who have died from COVID-19 in Nebraska, officials said.
HHS officials noted that weekly deaths from COVID-19 appear to be the lowest they have been since March 2020, and they said vaccines likely have played the biggest role in the steep decline. For example, cases of COVID-19 have declined substantially in long-term care facilities since vaccinations became available. Still, officials said, a small number of elderly and immunosuppressed patients may not mount a strong immune response. It’s important, therefore, for everyone to get vaccinated to further protect the most vulnerable.
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Among 95 million people in the United States who have been fully vaccinated, only 112 deaths due to COVID-19 have been identified, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Gary Anthone, Nebraska’s chief medical officer, said, “We are saddened to learn of this occurrence. While no deaths occurred in vaccinated individuals in the clinical trials, we understand that no vaccine or medication is 100% effective when used by millions of people. This does not negate the importance of vaccination and all of the positive effects of vaccination.”
At a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Pete Ricketts said the White House has informed Nebraska officials that if the state doesn’t take its full allocation of vaccine doses, those doses would be make available to other states, which “is appropriate.”
“It’s a good message to get out to Nebraskans to go ahead and get signed up for vaccine or that vaccine will be going to places like Massachusetts,” he said. “Get the vaccine. It works.”
World-Herald staff writer Paul Hammel contributed to this report.