Governor Ricketts gives coronavirus vaccine update

(Lincoln, NE) -- Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts says roughly 165,000 Nebraskans have gotten COVID-19 vaccines so far.

Ricketts gave a coronavirus update on Friday, where he reiterated that Nebraska is in Phase 1B, prioritizing those ages 65 and older, but noted that there may be some rare exceptions where someone who doesn’t “exactly fit the profile” of the current age group gets a vaccine. Ricketts says that’s because when clinics have some leftover doses, they look to those in other upcoming priority groups to vaccinate so no doses go to waste. He notes that there’s no “stand-by” list.

In the registry system, providers can note when they’ve had to discard a vaccination dose, but the system isn’t capable of extracting that information at this time, DHHS Chief Data Strategist Ashley Newmyer said.

State leaders wouldn’t give details on doses of COVID-19 vaccine the state may have had to throw out.

Ricketts said the federal government chose 33 of the 43 pharmacies that applied for the retail pharmacy vaccine allocations, he said. He was critical of the federal government’s handling of the retail pharmacy program roll out, saying the state’s health districts didn’t get enough of a heads-up to begin planning for this part of the vaccine roll out.

The governor said the state’s record in COVID-19 vaccine distribution via local health departments has been faster and more timely than that of the federal pharmacy program. He said officials are working on a plan to use any FEMA aid the state might get to replace volunteers helping with testing and vaccine administration with paid staff.

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