Nebraska health and state leaders resumed their coronavirus briefings on Monday after putting them on hold for the holidays.
Monday morning the state gave an update that in December, Nebraska obtained a total of 86,470 vaccine doses in the state. Angela Ling, incident commander for the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services, says 63,070 were primary doses and 23,400 doses for the federal pharmacy program to vaccinate those in long-term care facilities. Ling says the state also received a shipment of secondary Pfizer doses last week.
Ling also walked through the new features on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, which Nebraska DHHS plans to update daily as it tracks the state’s vaccinations and deployment. The dashboard will take into account whether the vaccine requires one or two doses, she said.
You can access the dashboard here.
Governor Pete Ricketts said that declined vaccinations will not be tracked on the dashboard. The governor reminded Nebraskans that COVID-19 vaccination is completely voluntary, but encouraged the population to get the vaccination.
This week, Ling said, the state has received 11,200 doses of Moderna designated for healthcare providers; and 11,700 doses of Pfizer for use in the federal pharmacy program for long-term care facilities. More than 100 long term facilities were vaccinated by the federal pharmacy program as well as local health departments and other community partners, she said.
Vaccine shipments will continue to go to people in Phase 1A such as hospitals, community healthcare providers, federally qualified health centers, pharmacies, and local health departments, she said.
While working on getting vaccines to people in Phase 1A, officials will also simultaneously work to distribute vaccine to those in Phase 1B, prioritizing those ages 75 and older, Ling said. Vaccinations for this group will be distributed via “multiple methods,” such as community clinics with local health departments, healthcare providers and pharmacy partners. “We are still finalizing those details and will get this information out as soon as possible,” Ling said. “In most areas, this phase will not start for another 2-3 weeks, so we ask for patience as we finalize these details.”
The state is planning to launch a website to get those in the priority group registered and to assist with scheduling vaccinations and follow-up reminders, she said.
Hospitalizations have continued to decline as the state remains in the “blue” category, which has allowed increased capacity indoors up to 75%. The governor reminded Nebraskans to continue with protective measures in order to preserve the state’s hospital capacity, including wearing masks in public spaces, washing hands, and keeping at least six feet of distance from others. Ricketts also noted that quarantine and isolation when there’s a possibility of exposure are still in effect in the current DHMs.
Ricketts also gave an update on the state’s hospital capacity, saying that 36% of hospital beds were available across the state, 36% of ICU beds were available, and that 76% of the state’s ventilators were still available.