COVID-19 vaccine may arrive in Nebraska mid-month

Nebraska City News-Press

Governor Pete Ricketts held a press conference at the State Capitol on Dec. 2 to provide an update on the state's work to slow the spread of the coronavirus.  The Governor announced that the first coronavirus vaccines are on track to arrive in Nebraska the week of Dec. 13-19, 2020.

Gov. Ricketts also reported that coronavirus hospitalizations in Nebraska are currently at 869.  This is down from a high of 987 on Nov. 20.  Nebraska remains in the “orange" phase of its pandemic response, which is the second most restrictive phase.  The Governor reminded Nebraskans to be thoughtful when planning holiday gatherings to protect at-risk loved ones.  He also urged Nebraskans to stay home when sick to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Incident Commander Angie Ling joined the Governor to discuss the State's vaccination plan.  She announced that the federal government has forecasted Nebraska to receive about 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (combined) by the end of December.  The arrival of the vaccines is contingent on final approval from federal regulatory agencies.

Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska

All Nebraskans are eligible for testing through Test Nebraska.

I encourage Nebraskans to continue to sign up, take the assessment, and schedule a time to get tested.

We have now delivered over 479,000 test results.

Over the past month, Test Nebraska has been turning around tests between 24-48 hours from swab to patient result.

We continue to expand testing.

The Oakview location in Omaha has moved from 1,200 to 1,400 tests per day.

In Lincoln, our Test Nebraska site has increased capacity from 800 to 900 tests per day.

Check out TestNebraska.com  for the latest schedule and locations.

Gov. Ricketts: Contact Tracing

During November, our contact tracers were working through a backlog of cases.

We had temporarily relied on people who tested positive to call their own close contacts while the state ramped up its contact tracing efforts.

Contact tracers have now completed working through the backlog, and they've resumed calling close contacts of positive cases.

Angie Ling: Coronavirus Vaccinations

The Nebraska Immunization Program is focusing on COVID-19 vaccine planning, distribution, and administration.

The Immunization Program is aware that both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted data for an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

If approved, COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated to states pro rata by population with a limited amount of doses being made available initially.

Forecasted allocations for Nebraska (these numbers are projected and subject to change):

Week of December 13-19

Pfizer: 16,500

Week of December 20-26

Pfizer: 19,500

Moderna: 32,100

Week of December 27-31

Pfizer: 23,400

Moderna: 14,200

In total, over 100,000 vaccine doses (Pfizer and Moderna combined) are scheduled to arrive in Nebraska by the end of the year.

Due to limited COVID-19 vaccines, immunization programs have been encouraged to utilize a phased approach to vaccine allocation.

It's vitally important that those on the frontlines in the fight against the pandemic stay as healthy as possible and that we reduce their chances of spreading this virus.

This is why the first allocations will focus on healthcare personnel.

Groups prioritized for vaccination can be found in the State of Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccination Plan  and are subject to further clarification and prioritization by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Another critical component that we have been working on is creating the proper infrastructure for data transmission.

Our program focus is on COVID-19 product logistics with manufacturers and commercial partners that are part of CDC's centralized COVID-19 vaccine delivery system.

The Nebraska State Immunization Information System (NESIIS) is equipped to receive vaccine administration data and is prepared to transmit de-identified vaccination data to the CDC.

Other areas of program focus are communicating vaccine safety, tools for addressing hesitancy, and sharing updated training materials provided by the CDC and vaccine manufacturers. 

These tools can be found at the Immunization Program's web page dhhs.ne.gov/Pages/Immunization.