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Nebraska officials share COVID-19 vaccine plan details

Gov. Pete Ricketts held a news conference Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2020, during which a...
Gov. Pete Ricketts held a news conference Monday morning, Oct. 26, 2020, during which a Nebraska DHHS official shared details about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.
Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 11:24 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska officials shared details about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan during a news conference Monday morning.

Anticipating a vaccine in the coming months, the CDC released a vaccination interim playbook in September to help guide states on their plans for distribution. The federal government asked that states submit their plan using that guidance by Oct. 16, and Nebraska met that deadline, Gov. Pete Ricketts said.

Nebraska’s plan is a “living draft,” meaning that state officials expect to make revisions as more information becomes available, according to Angela Ling, incident commander at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

As of now, Nebraska is planning a “phased approach” for vaccine distribution, Ling said.

Phase 1 distribution will utilize Nebraska’s existing “Vaccines for Children" provider network, made up of healthcare providers, local health departments, federally qualified health centers, community-based clinics, and tribal healthcare and hospitals, she said.

“We expect that vaccine supply will be limited early on, and initial doses will go to healthcare personnel and critical populations,” Ling said.

  • Vaccinated in Phase 1A: healthcare personnel, hospitals, emergency rooms, long-term care staff, urgent care, and primary care access points.
  • Vaccinated in Phase 1B: residents of long-term care facilities, people ages 65 and older, people with certain underlying medical conditions, essential critical infrastructure workers (which can vary by local jurisdictions), and vulnerable and congregant populations.

As vaccine supply increases, more people will be able to receive it, and more healthcare providers will be given access to order and administer the vaccine and related supplies, Ling said.

“DHHS has worked to ensure that inclusion, transparency, and a sound evidence-base are the foundation of our plan,” she said.

No date has yet been given on when to expect vaccination doses to arrive, she said. “But when we do, our goal is to ensure fair and equitable access and distribute the vaccine in a way that provides the most protection for Nebraskans as quickly as possible.”

Nebraska plans assume that the vaccine will require two doses, separated by 21-28 days, and that other routine immunization programs will continue, according to the state’s planning document.

Matthew Blomstedt, Nebraska’s education commissioner, also provided an update on the technology provided to schools to close the “digital divide” that became apparent when classes were forced online by the pandemic. The state determined via an assessment that 29,524 devices were needed, he said, and the Governors Education Emergency Relief fund helped make sure those devices were made available.

The state is also keeping an eye on the challenges schools are facing with distance learning, he said.

Gov. Ricketts also reminded those interested in applying for any of Nebraska’s CARES Act grants go to coronavirus.nebraska.gov/grantsandprograms. As the grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, the high demand for some of these grants has prompted the state to close these applications.

Watch Monday’s news conference

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