Ricketts urges Nebraskans to remain cautious ahead of Easter holiday

(Undated) -- Nebraska's Governor is urging Nebraskans to continue using caution, even as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to drop.

During a Monday morning coronavirus update, Governor Pete Ricketts said the state will follow the new CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and mask use, but encouraged continued caution in planning family gatherings for the upcoming Easter holiday.

Ricketts said those who have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine will need to wait 14 days for full effectiveness, but then will be able to gather without masks, per new guidance from the CDC. Fully vaccinated people will also not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, he said.

As Nebraskans make plans for Easter gatherings, the governor urged everyone to continue to exercise caution. Easter Sunday is on April 4. “If not all family members have been vaccinated, and there’s certainly that category of age 55 or 65 and older, you’re going to need to be more cautious with regard to the size of those gatherings,” he said.

The governor said the state had administered more than 519,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, and was most recently ranked 23rd in the nation by the New York Times in terms of first-dose administration of COVID-19 vaccine, with 18% of Nebraskans receiving an initial vaccination; 16th in terms of second-dose administration with 10% of the population having received two COVID-19 vaccine doses; and 29th in terms of vaccination doses used, with 78% of doses distributed to Nebraskans.

Ricketts urged Nebraskans to sign up at vaccinate.ne.gov in order to be notified of their opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. So far, more than 200,000 Nebraskans have done so, he said.

Ricketts said the state administered about 90,000 COVID-19 vaccinations last week, sharing a reminder that Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses won’t be coming for the next two weeks.

The governor said the state’s registration system prevents “shopping” for vaccine around Nebraska, seeking out vaccination in a smaller community if it’s not yet available at a larger one. He said the pharmacy program is meant to serve the local communities in which they’re located, and health departments in those communities are supplying lists to the local pharmacies to notify them when it’s their turn to receive a vaccination. “By and large, it will be all people who are local to those pharmacies who are going to be eligible to get those vaccines,” he said, but acknowledged there might be some instances where people obtain a vaccine outside those recommendations.

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