Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccine Update

News Release
For Immediate Release: 3/15/2021

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 – More than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska. As of Sunday, more than 624,230 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).

Additionally, as of Sunday over 213,151 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 14.4% of Nebraskans aged 16 years of age and older.

Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those aged 16 years and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccines have been approved for those aged 18 years and older. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two shots; Johnson & Johnson's vaccine requires just one shot.

For the week ending March 21, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 25,740 first doses and 23,400 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as well as 18,400 first doses and 18,400 second doses of the Moderna vaccine. The state will not receive any doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine this week.

Finish Strong Nebraska is the state's official COVID-19 vaccination campaign designed to keep the public motivated and informed on the vaccine. For more information and to register on the vaccine portal, visit FinishStrong.Ne.Gov. Once registered on the portal, Nebraska residents will be notified when COVID-19 vaccination begins in their area. A Spanish translation of the website is now available. To access, users should select Español from the language drop-down menu at the top-right side of the page.

As of March 15, over 278,148 Nebraskans have registered to receive the vaccine at

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.

All Nebraska counties are vaccinating Phase 1B priority groups, and some areas are moving to additional tiers. Local health departments can advise which group they are currently vaccinating.

Local health departments and retail pharmacy partners are offering vaccines for Nebraskans 65 and older. Vaccination will expand to other 1B priority groups as supplies allow. Other groups include 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.

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. A total of 135 sites across Nebraska receive vaccine shipments.

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.

Those receiving their first dose are reminded to keep their vaccination record card in a safe place and take it to their second dose appointment.

In phase three clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine had 95% efficacy and the Moderna vaccine had 94% efficacy in preventing any severity of COVID-19. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. A phase three clinical trial showed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had 66% efficacy at preventing any severity of COVID-19 (while being studied in regions with new variant strains of COVID-19), and only requires one dose. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60% effective. Each of these three authorized COVID-19 vaccines had 100% efficacy against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine was the only one to be tested on variant strains of COVID-19 and only requires one dose. Since each of these COVID-19 vaccines work extremely well against the virus, individuals should feel confident they are reducing their risk when they choose to vaccinate. Moreover, every person who gets vaccinated is doing their part to help reduce spread and put an end to this global pandemic. 

To date, 8 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant and 16 cases of the B1.429 variant have been identified in Nebraska.

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 and using Nebraska-specific data to determine prioritization. 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.

On March 16, there will be changes to the Directed Health Measures (DHMs) for Nebraska that will be in place  until April 30. They include the following:

  • Added requirements to the Federal Retail Pharmacy participants:
    1. Must coordinate vaccine schedules with their local health department or until they are using the state's vaccine registration and administration system
    2. By April 1, must be using the state's vaccine registration and administration system
    3. May vaccinate healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers, individuals 65 years and older and in some regions if the state department of health has authorized, individuals 50 years and older
  • Added that all COVID-19 vaccine providers must use the state-designated vaccine registration and administration system by April 1
  • Removed the requirement for 're-opening plans' for large outdoor gatherings and added clarification that this requirement is for indoor gatherings only.

DHHS continues to share new information via the Coronavirus website, as well as Facebook and Twitter and at virtual town halls. Each week, members of the DHHS team hold a mid-day Facebook Live session to discuss vaccine-related and pandemic-related topics. On Thursday, March 18 at noon, Josie Rodriguez, administrator of the Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity at DHHS and Dr. Josue Gutierrez, a family medicine specialist with Saline Medical Specialties in Crete, will discuss Hispanic health, the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine, and why it is important for Hispanics to receive the vaccine. The session will be conducted in Spanish. For those unable to watch live, all sessions are archived and available on the video tab of the DHHS Facebook page and DHHS's website.

Nebraska DHHS is also partnering with the Mexican Consulate in Omaha for a Live Town Hall on Facebook on Thursday the 18th at 4:00 PM.  The event will be live on the Consulate's Facebook page here:

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.​


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