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 priority group vaccination is proceeding in your area.
Lincoln, Neb. – More than 48,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 234,000 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).
As of Sunday, 68,355 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 4.61% of Nebraskans aged 16 or older.
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.
Nebraska has been notified that initial shipments to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Federal Retail Pharmacy Program will arrive at the end of this week. Participating retail pharmacies will be able to vaccinate those 65 and older.
Later this week, the state expects to receive 5,700 doses for retail pharmacy vaccinations. DHHS expects to release allocation details soon. Nebraskans are cautioned that retail pharmacy doses will be very limited for some time.
Retail pharmacy doses will be in addition to the state's weekly allocation of first and second doses being administered by Nebraska's 19 local health departments. This week, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 28,700 first doses, including 11,700 Pfizer doses and 17,000 Moderna doses, and a total of 23,500 second dose shipments.
In addition, the state is receiving doses released from the Federal Pharmacy Program used by the CDC to vaccinate residents and staff at long-term care facilities. The 11,700 doses being released will provide 5,850 first and second doses, and be allocated to local health departments to support Phase 1B vaccinations.
DHHS has a website available to help Nebraskans register to be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. Available at vaccinate.ne.gov, more than 165,800 registrations have been received so far.
All Nebraska counties are now vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups.
Phase 1B priority groups include those 65 and older, those 18 and older who are at high-risk for severe COVID-19, and those working in critical industries, including: first responders, educators and daycare providers, those in the utilities and transportation sectors, corrections staff, and those working in food processing and at grocery stores.
Those who are 18 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition and live outside of Lancaster County are asked to register using the state site to help ensure proper prioritization in Phase 1B. Residents of Lancaster County should register using the local health department's online vaccine registration option.
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. 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.
A Spanish version of the website is in development.
DHHS is allocating doses via an existing vaccine network that includes local health departments, federally-qualified health centers (FQHC), community-based clinics, and tribal health care centers across the state. A total of 125 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.
Nebraska's 19 local health departments are coordinating vaccination for Phase 1 priority groups.
Community clinics with scheduled appointments are the primary way vaccine doses are given while vaccine supplies remain limited in order to help ensure all doses can be used in the required timeframe. Community clinics are staggering appointments to observe social distancing and are providing space for monitoring after vaccination.
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, for others there can be 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.
The Pfizer vaccine was 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine 94% effective in phase three clinical trials. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. You cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccine. Two doses are needed to reach full effectiveness against COVID-19, and the same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.
Those receiving their first dose are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their appointment for their second dose.
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 while vaccine supplies are limited. 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 – remain critical to preventing infection and controlling spread.
The state is taking recommendations of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) into consideration. Priority groups and timing projections remain tentative and will be adjusted as federal recommendations are issued and as vaccine shipments are scheduled.
To follow Nebraska's COVID-19 vaccination progress, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccination dashboard.
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 (531) 249-1873 or (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.