OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine began Monday and Nebraska could be getting it as early as this week.
Governor Pete Ricketts said the state is allowed to order 15,000 doses, but we still have to wait and see how many doses Nebraska will actually receive. That number may not be consistent week-to-week.
"We are being allowed to order 15,000, but again, they haven’t been delivered so we don’t know how many we’re actually going to get," Ricketts said. "Moderna and Pfizer, we’ve been guaranteed a minimum amount three weeks out, that is not the case for Johnson & Johnson. We were allowed to order 15,000 this week, we don’t know how many we’ll receive. That supply for the next few weeks may not be that consistent so we may be allowed to order 15,000 this week, but may not be able to get that many in weeks two or three, for example."
The governor is optimistic that Nebraska will see more doses coming into the state this month.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be used to continue vaccinating those in phase 1b, but because it's only one dose and easier to store, it allows the state to be more flexible.
"Because Johnson & Johnson has some more flexibility with the storage, we’ll be looking for ways to be able to utilize that to make it easier for folks to get the vaccine, plus it’s only one shot. So we’ll be looking for that , again we’re going to be focusing on those high risk groups to be able to get that vaccine just like we’re doing with Moderna and Pfizer," Ricketts said.
The vaccine is about 72% effective at preventing COVID-19 infections, which is lower than the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, but health officials say they are all good vaccines and not to focus heavily on the percentages.
"If you go back and look at the flu vaccines that we have every year, those have much lower effectiveness, so I do think we were all a little bit spoiled. Ninety-five, ninety-four percent and now we are saying this one is below, but you know, overall this is a good vaccine, too and if it becomes available for us, for any of us, we should take the vaccine," said Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County Health Director.
Those in Douglas County who are in line for the vaccine will not be able to choose which one they receive.
"People are not going to have an option at this point, when we get a lot more vaccine down the line we may be able to offer that choice at clinics but right now if you have an opportunity to get the vaccine, get any one of them," said Phil Rooney, Resource Specialist for the Douglas County Health Department.
The Douglas County Health Department is still unsure exactly how many of the 15,000 doses will be directed here.