Douglas County to begin COVID-19 vaccinations for law enforcement

(Douglas County, NE) -- The Douglas County Health Department is announcing who will get the COVID-19 vaccine next in the continued rollout under Phase 1B.

Tuesday morning, County Health Director Dr. Adi Pour told county commissioners that the health department will expand Phase 1B appointments to include those age 75 and older as well as law enforcement personnel. That move will happen on Thursday.

Addressing Douglas County Commissioners at their regular meeting, Dr. Adi Pour said that by 9:00 Thursday morning, the county’s online appointment system will expand the age requirement to allow those who are at least 75 years old, or will be later this year, to schedule their vaccination. Pour said, however, that the system may experience some issues should too many try to access it all at the same time. “We have enough appointments that everyone can go on there in an orderly fashion."

The health department’s decision to expand the age group slightly was based upon the demand for appointments, Pour said. “If we have an opening, then we go to a lower age group.”

DCHD released a preliminary schedule for opening appointments each Thursday to further Phase 1B age groups, but Pour noted that it may be revised to ensure priority is given to the eldest population. As of Tuesday, those ages 70 and older are slated to begin making appointments Feb. 11, those at least 65 years old would begin Feb. 18, with anyone at least age 18 with a pre-existing condition to follow, though no date is yet targeted. Appointments for people who are under the age of 65 with underlying conditions will be made through the Nebraska vaccination system here. People in this group will need to re-register at that link.

Pour said new positive COVID-19 cases have decreased in nursing homes that have all received their first round of the vaccination and that work continues to get the second round vaccinations to that population.

The health director also said the county would be allotting 10% of its COVID-19 vaccination doses to inoculate 1,500 — about half — of local law enforcement this week. First-responders, next on Nebraska’s Phase 1B prioritization list following senior citizens, include dispatch, police, Nebraska State Patrol, FBI, fire, and adult and child welfare workers. Once vaccinations for that group is finished, she said, efforts will move to corrections — but not necessarily those in the judiciary system — as well as homeless shelters, educators, and utility workers.

Drive-through vaccinations will likely not be in place until April, when the weather gets better, Pour said. She told the county commissioners on Tuesday that plans are in motion to incorporate Test Nebraska into the mass-vaccination process. The county is purchasing vans in order to send COVID-19 vaccine “strike teams” into some neighborhoods, she said. Nebraska Medicine has also offered a van to assist with that strategy.

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