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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.
Lincoln – More than 116,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered last week in Nebraska, and as of Sunday, more than 1,064,898 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in total in Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Additionally, as of Sunday, over 430,481 Nebraskans have completed vaccination, which represents 29% of residents aged 16 years of age and older.
As of last week, the entire state moved to Phase 2B eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, which includes all Nebraskans ages 16-49. This does not mean that every health district will immediately be able to vaccinate any adult. Some local health departments may choose to begin Phase 2B by prioritizing according to age within the phase (for example, by starting with only those persons 40 years of age and older).
However, many areas are still working to finish administering vaccines to Nebraskans aged 50 and older. Also, as has been previously indicated, up to 10% of the weekly allocation will be allotted for high-risk medical conditions, regardless of age. The medical community will make the decision of who will be vaccinated with these doses.
Also, Directed Health Measures (DHM) are allowing the Federal Retail Pharmacy program to start vaccinating those 18 years of age and older. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is coordinated and managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and participating pharmacies in the state have signed up and been approved by the federal government. For more on the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, visit the CDC website https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/retail-pharmacy-program/participating-pharmacies.html
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 April 18, Nebraska is scheduled to receive 26,910 first doses and 25,740 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine; 19,200 first doses and 18,400 second doses of the Moderna vaccine, and 1,100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine.
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 this morning, over 362,820 Nebraskans have registered to receive the vaccine at vaccinate.ne.gov
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.
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.
Per CDC definition, as of last Friday, DHHS has identified 122 possible vaccine breakthroughs among Nebraska residents, which include individuals with positive tests 14 days or more after completing a vaccination series. Out of the 430,481 Nebraskans fully vaccinated, this represents just 0.03%, indicating the vaccine is working for more than 99% of people who receive it. We have the most confidence in 28 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 (61%) or 17 of the 28 that have been successfully sequenced. Out of 6,390 total hospitalizations, 3 have been among vaccinated individuals. That is .05% of COVID-19 hospitalizations. These numbers are extremely small.
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 in phase 3 clinical trials. 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.
As of this morning, 234 cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID-19 variant (the U.K. variant), 54 cases of the B1.427/B1.429 variant (the California variant), and 2 cases of the P.1 variant (the Brazil variant) have been identified in Nebraska.
Also, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Nebraska Public Health Lab (NPHL) have confirmed that the New York variant of COVID-19, known as B1.526, is in the state. The initial case has been identified in Douglas County. Investigations are underway and ongoing. The identified B1.526 variant has been spreading throughout the United States and is still being studied to determine the level of contagiousness. Testing platforms like Test Nebraska and others will still produce a “positive" result for the identified B1.526 variant (and other variants). It is expected that vaccinations will remain effective.
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.
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. This week's topic is how the pandemic and the vaccine influence women of childbearing age and will be held on Tuesday, April 13, at 3 pm. 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.
The pandemic has been difficult for the Hispanic community. Many frontline workers in hospitals and food processing plants continued to work in order to keep Nebraska running. CDC data shows that Hispanics are at 3.1 times greater risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 and are 2.3 times at greater risk of death. DHHS is partnering with the Douglas County Health Department are partnering with several influential Hispanic organizations in South Omaha to hold an online town hall. Residents can receive the latest information from health professionals and have their questions about the COVID-19 vaccine answered by doctors.
The town hall will take place online on Thursday, April 15 at 6 pm.
Organizations involved in the town hall include: OneWorld Community Health Centers Inc., The Heartland Workers Center, the Latino Center of the Midlands, the Metro Young Latino Professionals Association (MYLPA), and the Tri-Faith Initiative.
Nebraskans are encouraged to register at the link below and to submit any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.