SUBSCRIBE NOW

Nebraska DHHS provides update on COVID-19 vaccine program across state

Nebraska City News-Press

More than 31,000 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 137,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to those in Phase 1 priority groups, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

With the exception of Douglas and Lancaster counties, most areas in the state have completed first dose vaccinations for Phase 1A priority groups, with second doses scheduled appropriately to complete vaccination in the coming weeks.

Douglas and Lancaster County are expected to complete most first dose vaccinations this week and be ready to begin Phase 1B next week.

Phase 1A includes frontline health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

More than a quarter of Nebraska's 90,000 health care workers have completed vaccination so far, with more than 24,000 receiving their second dose of vaccine.

Residents and staff at 455 long-term care facilities have received their first vaccine dose. This week, Nebraska will direct 11,700 Pfizer doses to the Federal Pharmacy Program support second dose clinics at long-term care facilities across the state.

In addition to the Pfizer shipment, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 11,800 Moderna first doses and 11,200 Moderna second doses this week.

Later this week DHHS will launch a website to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area.

Registering will allow individuals to receive updates, scheduling information and follow-up reminders about vaccination. Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, as well as a date of birth, occupation and answers to health questions used to determine priority group eligibility.

Family members and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed. Any information entered is strictly confidential and will be used solely to determine phase eligibility in administering the vaccine.  

Nebraska has expanded Phase 1B groups to match federal recommendations. Phase 1B includes those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists a number of medical conditions known to increase the risk for severe COVID-19 .

Phase 1B also includes those working in critical industries who are unable to work remotely, including: first responders, educators, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, and food processing workers.

Local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.

Community clinics with scheduled appointments will be the primary way vaccine doses are given while the vaccine supply remains limited to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics will stagger appointments in order to observe social distancing and provide space for monitoring after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines are not yet available to the public and it's expected to be late spring before mass vaccination begins.

Nebraskans are reminded that basic precautions are the best defense against COVID-19. You can be #BigRedResponsible by wearing a mask.  Additionally, watching your distance, washing hands often, staying home when you're sick, and avoiding the 3Cs – crowded places, close contact with others, and confined spaces are still critical actions to limiting infection.

To follow Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination progress, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard . As of Sunday, 1.64 percent of Nebraskans aged 16 or older have completed vaccination. Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those aged 16 and older, and the Moderna vaccine approved for those aged 18 and older. 

The Pfizer vaccine was 95 percent effective and the Moderna vaccine 94 percent effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60 percent effective. Neither vaccine contains a live virus and cannot give individuals COVID-19. Two vaccine doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.

The state is following the recommendations of CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Priority groups and timing projections remain tentative and will be adjusted as federal recommendations are issued and as vaccine shipments are scheduled.

DHHS continues to share new information via the Coronavirus website, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Each Thursday, members of the DHHS Immunization team hold a mid-day Facebook Live session to answer vaccine-related questions. All sessions are archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page .

In addition, the DHHS COVID-19 information line is available to help answer questions on COVID-19 or vaccination. Available by calling (833) 998-2275, the line is staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT. Call volumes may be high and patience is appreciated.