Actions

6,000 Nebraskans did not return for second dose of COVID vaccine

DHHS working to get everyone both doses
Posted at 6:49 PM, Feb 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 12:59:23-05

OMAHA, NE — Pharmacies in NE to begin giving COVID vaccines on Thursday

As the state continues vaccinating those in group 1B, a new problem is emerging from the previous group that was vaccinated, group 1A.

There are 6,000 health care workers who never returned for their second doses. This puts a dent in COVID-19 vaccine planning and distribution and the state wants to make sure those scheduled for their second doses actually come in.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines require two doses for maximum protection from the virus.

"And we know that with that regimen, it's very, very effective. It nearly completely eliminates severe disease, hospitalization, death," Dr. Rupp with UNMC said.

After the first dose, individuals have to wait 21 to 28 days before receiving their second dose. There's also a 4-day grace period. But the state says there are now 6,000 individuals who passed their grace periods and haven't received their second doses. These individuals are the healthcare workers belonging in group 1A of vaccinations.

RELATED: More retail pharmacies in Nebraska getting COVID-19 vaccine

"This group is a group we expect to come back for second doses so hopefully that gap will narrow soon," Angie Ling with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is now actively reaching out to clinics to try to bring these individuals in to complete their vaccinations.

"I don't think it's forgetting. I think there's other causes and we're digging into that. It could even simply be a delay in the clinic schedule," Ling said.

If it comes down to it, state officials say they will use staff and the National Guard to help assist tracking people down for their second doses.

"So if they're not going to come back, we need to know they're not going to come back. We can educate, we can ask them to come back, but if they say, 'Hey we don't want it we want to give that dose to someone else," Ling said.

Johnson and Johnson's single-dose vaccine is promising to the health department. If approved by the FDA later this month, it would help with the issue of coordinating multiple doses.

"The good things are that it's single dose and it's much hardier as far as environmental conditions. So it doesn't need to be at the ultra low freezer temperatures and it has a longer shelf life," Dr. Rupp said.

The state says they are looking into where many of these delays are taking place to put more resources and educational material into those specific counties.