CONTACTKhalilah LeGrand, (402) 471-9313,firstname.lastname@example.org
ATTENTION: Questions from the public about vaccines can be directed to the COVID-19 information line at (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275. Please visit your local health department's website for more information on how vaccination is proceeding in your area.
This is the last weekly COVID-19 news release. DHHS continues to share new information via the Vaccine Dashboard as well as Facebook and Twitter and at virtual town halls.
LINCOLN – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is reporting that hospitalizations and new cases in Nebraska continue to decrease. DHHS reports that there were 217 new COVID-19 cases this week, compared to 280 last week. The daily average of new positive cases in the last week was 31.
According to the New York Times, the news about COVID-19 has been mostly positive in the US over recent months. The vaccines continue to work well against every variant, and the number of Americans who have received a vaccine continues to rise, though the pace has slowed. Data suggests that fully vaccinated people remain protected, as the vaccines do work.
COVID-19 variants continue to increase in the state. To date, a total of 1,721 variants of concern (VOC) have been identified. Of this total, there are 1,511 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant (U.K.), which is more contagious than the original strain of coronavirus and is still the most dominant strain in the U.S. Other variants present in Nebraska are 114 cases of the B.1.427/429 variant (CA), 25 of the B1.526 variant (NY), 16 cases of the B.1.351 variant (South Africa), 16 of the B1.617 Delta variant (India), and 38 cases of the P.1 variant (Brazil).
Testing platforms like Test Nebraska and others will still produce a positive result for the identified variants. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) have been working to increase sequencing capabilities within the state. Higher volumes of in-state sequencing began in January and NPHL currently has capacity to sequence more than 100 specimens per week. Creighton University is also sequencing roughly 100 specimens per week.
Vaccines have helped Nebraska return to normal, especially with many unknowns surrounding the new variant strains. Widespread vaccinations can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer opportunities the virus has not only to transmit but to further mutate. The pace of coronavirus vaccinations in Nebraska has slowed significantly over the past month.
Officials continue to urge Nebraskans to be tested if they are exposed or develop COVID symptoms. The Division of Public Health at Nebraska DHHS recommends that anyone exposed to COVID-19 quarantine but it is not required by the state
Nebraskans are encouraged to Finish Strong and do their part to end the pandemic by registering for the vaccine. Anyone 12 and older can now get vaccinated. There are several options available. Register at Vaccinate.Ne.Gov or with your local health district, or check with area pharmacies that may be scheduling appointments. Those registered will be alerted when a vaccine is available in their priority group and health district. There is a Spanish translation site for the vaccine portal on the state's website; users can access this by selecting Español from the language drop-down menu at the top-right side of the page.
Testing continues to be available to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Visit Testnebraska.com, or TestNebraska.com/es for Spanish, to schedule an appointment. Those with questions about testing, or who need help completing the online assessment, can call the Test Nebraska hotline at (402) 207-9377.
DHHS is allocating doses via an existing vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs), community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state.
For the week ending June 20, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 57,600 total doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 41,920 total doses of the Moderna vaccine. No doses are scheduled to be received of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine.
While every effort is made to reduce wastage, the decrease in need of mass clinics due to the vaccine becoming more widely available means a natural outcome of this shift will be a rise in wasted doses.
Mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection, and you should be feeling better within a few days. Those receiving their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their second dose appointment. The Johnson and Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine requires just one dose.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those 12 and older, and the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccines are approved for those 18 and older.
Per CDC definition, as of today, DHHS has identified 631 possible vaccine breakthroughs among Nebraska residents, which include individuals with positive tests 14 days or more after completing a vaccination series. Out of the 866,030 Nebraskans fully vaccinated, this represents just 0.0007 (0.07%), indicating the vaccine is working for more than 99% of people who receive it. There is confidence of vaccine breakthrough in 256 of these individuals, for whom genomic sequencing was successful, thereby suggesting a high level of virus was present in the specimen they provided. Variants of concern represent 232 (91%) of the 256 that have been successfully sequenced.
The CDC considers a person to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose, or in the case of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine, two weeks after their single dose. Officials also said people who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to a COVID-19 case and may opt out of COVID-19 testing if they do not experience any symptoms.
Adolescent Vaccination Update
Children's (age 12 and up) COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines on the same day, as well as co-administration within 14 days. When deciding whether to co-administer with COVID-19 vaccines, providers should consider whether the patient is behind or at risk of becoming behind on recommended vaccines.
While fewer children have been sick with COVID-19 as compared to adults, they can be infected with COVID-19. Adolescents, like adults, may have some side effects, which are normal signs that their body is building protection. These side effects may affect an adolescent's ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. Without vaccination, an adolescent has a higher risk of developing a severe form of the illness with long-lasting complications or even death.
Medical experts have warned that even though more adults become vaccinated, the virus will continue to plague children, who now account for about 25% of cases simply because they have not been inoculated.
Pediatricians are concerned about the challenge of getting children up to date on their childhood vaccines, and balancing that with scheduling potential COVID-19 shots, as there has been a decline in routine immunizations since the start of the pandemic. Parents are being urged to get their children caught up on immunizations as children under 12 years of age could soon be eligible as well to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, more than 1,761,282 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given to Nebraskans throughout the state, according to DHHS. Additionally, over 866,030 Nebraskans are fully vaccinated. That number translates to 45.5% of the entire state population. To follow Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination progress, please visit the Vaccine Dashboard.
The COVID-19 Case and Vaccination Dashboard is updated Monday through Friday. Monday's totals will contain the weekend data. A date and time stamp to indicate when the dashboard was last updated has been added. Monday's totals will contain the weekend data. These numbers include all vaccinations that took place in Nebraska last week, including through federal entities, such as the Indian Health Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Nebraskans can register online to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination is available in their area, and a Spanish translation of the site is now available. Available at Vaccinate.Ne.Gov, users should select Español from the language drop-down menu at the top-right side of the page.
As of today, more than 390,783 Nebraskans with an average age of 50.8 years old have registered for the vaccine. Those interested in registering will need to provide name and contact information, date of birth and answer health questions used to help determine priority group eligibility. Any information entered is strictly confidential and used solely for this purpose. Friends, family and caregivers are encouraged to assist others with vaccine sign-up if needed, and the DHHS Information line can assist those with limited technology, language or internet access, and is available by calling (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275.
Those who entered a friend's email will have their emails sent to that friend's email address where they can again be assisted, this time to make their appointment. If the state's email address was used in your registration, either the state or your local public health department will contact you to help you make your appointment.
Directed Health Measures
Nebraska does not have any statewide health directives; any recommendations made will be through an individual's local health departments, which continue to encourage people to get vaccinated if they have not already.
The DHHS COVID-19 information line is available to answer questions at (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275. The line is staffed every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT. Relay calls for deaf and hard of hearing and Language Line access is available.