Nebraskans with underlying health conditions included in next vaccine phase

(Lincoln, NE) -- Nebraskans with underlying health conditions should be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks.

During Governor Pete Ricketts' coronavirus update on Friday, Nebraska’s chief medical officer Dr. Gary Anthone said the state is currently working on a vaccine distribution plan to get doses out to those with certain pre-existing conditions. The plan is expected to be rolled out in the next two weeks.

During the update, Ricketts said appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations are filling up quickly. The governor naoted that the Douglas County Health Department recently put a call out for more than 800 vaccination appointments, but that they were then quickly booked up until the middle of March.

Ricketts again addressed questions about removing younger vulnerable populations from the state’s vaccine prioritizations, reiterating his stance once more that the state had examined vaccination data and found that doing so by age was more efficient. He also said he was still in favor of allowing health departments to designate 10% of vaccinations to other population groups in order to make sure that local public safety avenues were protected.

Anthone said Nebraskans younger than age 65 with certain comorbidities would likely be worked into Phase 2A. He said the state would likely release a plan about vaccinating such populations in the next two weeks. “We need to set the logistics in motion on how we’ll get to those groups of patients, on how that will be prioritized, and how they’ll be notified and where they’ll go to get vaccinated,” he said.

No specific timeline has yet been set for vaccinating these groups of people, Anthone said. “We want to get the 1B done first — the age 65 and older. And whenever that’s done, then that’s probably when they’ll be able to get their vaccinations,” he said.

Anthone said hospitalizations started going down before the COVID-19 vaccine came out, which was a similar trend in the Midwest region in mid- to late December. About 9% of Nebraskans have received their second dose of the vaccine, he said. Adding that to the 11% of people who have been recently infected with COVID-19, “we have about 20% of our population now with immunity, which is a good number. And that’s only gonna go up with time,” Anthone said.

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