LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — On Wednesday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts provided an update on the state’s fight against COVID-19. Starting Monday, April 5, health departments across the state will have the option to vaccinate anyone 16 years of age or older who has registered to be vaccinated. The Pfizer vaccine is open to residents who are more than 16 years old and the Moderna vaccine will be available for Nebraskans over the age of 18.
“What we’ve seen is the Federal Vaccine Program is going to the folks that are 18 years and up and that many of our health districts are also moving into that category," Gov Ricketts said.
While some health districts may be ready to make the change, Ricketts said others may not and will continue to vaccinate people in phase 2A. Phase 2A requires health departments to administer 90% of vaccines to people over the age of 50 while 10% of vaccines go to people with underlying conditions.
FEDERAL RETAIL PHARMACY PROGRAM: Doses increasing to the pharmacies part of this program, doubling in some areas. That includes NE, and pharmacies can expect to see a large increase in Johnson & Johnson vaccine.— Ruta Ulcinaite KMTV (@RutaUlcinaite) March 31, 2021
Local health departments will make the call on shifting past phase 2A.
“Each health department is going to manage it in a way that is most appropriate for the health department," Gov. Ricketts said.
Depending on supply more populated counties, like Douglas, can continue vaccinating in age increments. On Thursday, Douglas County will begin vaccinating those 45 and older. Soon, the county will begin vaccinating those over 40 as well.
"That is a big group of people. From 40 to 49 years old we have around 66,000 people in Douglas County," DCHD spokesperson Phil Rooney said.
But the county also says they could possibly be ready to vaccinate anyone that wanted a vaccine in about seven to ten days.
Ricketts said he is part of phase 2A and will getting vaccinated in Omaha this Saturday at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
While vaccines are being put to use and should help reduce hospitalizations and the number of people who contract the virus, Ricketts said people need to remain vigilant and put to use the tools that help prevent the spread.
Although hospital capacity remains “robust,” Ricketts said there was a bit of a jump in hospitalizations and cases yesterday. On Monday, 102 people were hospitalized with the virus and on Tuesday, that number jumped to 116.
Nebraska Chief Medical Officer said Gary Anthone said the vaccines are providing a good balance to counter those hospitalizations and said while the vaccines should help prevent contracting the virus, it’s not impossible to get COVID-19.
At this time the state is tracking around 15 people who are experiencing vaccine breakthrough, meaning that they were fully vaccinated and contracted the virus about two weeks later. Anthone said that number is not confirmed though and that the state is continuing to look into it.
In regards to vaccine supply, the governor said the state should be seeing an increase in Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. He also said vaccines are being dynamically allocated, at least those administered by the state and health departments, to areas with higher demand. Allocations to pharmacies that are part of the Federal Pharmacy Program are not being controlled by the state Ricketts said.
Watch his remarks below or on our Facebook page.