Nebraska to get 15,600 doses of COVID-19 soon, second and third shipments are delayed

COVID-19 Vaccine
COVID-19 Vaccine(AP)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:05 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Governor Pete Ricketts provided an update on the state’s fight against Coronavirus Wednesday morning.

Ricketts, first announcing that the state is down to 787 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Ricketts said if this continues to be the trend, it could bring Nebraska’s directed health measures down to the yellow phase.

This would decrease restrictions for extracurricular activities, bars, restaurants and wedding receptions. It would remove restrictions for churches, gyms and salons.

However, Ricketts said this doesn’t mean Nebraska should let its guard down.

“Even if we move into the yellow phase, we’ll still need to practice good social distancing rules through the entire winter as general population vaccines probably won’t be available until April,” Ricketts said.

Nebraska is set to get its first shipment of Pfizer vaccines as soon as the vaccine is approved for emergency use by the FDA, which could come tomorrow.

Ricketts said they’re expecting to get 15,600 doses of the vaccine which will be sent to eight hospitals that have the ultra low cold storage freezers in Nebraska. Those eight hospitals will feed vaccines to nine others in the state.

“We’re going to prioritize those doses for those caring for COVID-19 patients day in and day out, like those in COVID-19 units and EMS workers,” Ricketts said.

Once the state receives its second and third shipments, they’ll go to pharmacies which will distribute them to long term care facilities.

It’s unknown when those second and third shipments will come. Ricketts said they were informed Monday they’d be delayed and he was unsure of how many doses they would get and when they would come.

Angie Ling, incident commander for DHHS said it will take around 50,000 doses to vaccinate long term care facility staff and residents. They’ll start once they have received 20,000 doses.

Ling said the state will start receiving Moderna vaccines after Pfizer.

The FDA is meeting to approve the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17.

Governor Ricketts didn’t say how many doses of the Moderna vaccine they’re expecting, but he did say it would go to hospitals that don’t have the ultra low cold storage freezers the Pfizer vaccine needs.

Once the first phase of people are vaccinated, the state will move onto Phase 1b which includes first responders, educators, food and agriculture workers, utilities, transportation and corrections staff. Phase 1c includes those over 65-years-old, vulnerable populations and those in congregate living.

Ricketts was unable to provide a timeline of when those phases will start and end. He said it all depends on how quickly the state gets shipments.

He also said the state is working on a communications system which will alert people when they are eligible to get the vaccine.

When asked if he would encourage people to get the vaccine, he said yes.

“If the FDA approves it I would have no problems taking it,” Ricketts said. “But I want people to feel comfortable so I would encourage people to do their own research.”

One thing that he said gives him confidence in the vaccine is the size of the trials. He said the size of vaccine trials is typically 5,000-6,000, but with the COVID-19 vaccine trials they had at least 30,000 trial participants to get more data quickly.

“Frankly, should the FDA validate the data, 95 percent effectiveness is actually pretty remarkable for a vaccine developed so quickly,” Ricketts said. “That should also give you confidence.”

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