Omaha senior community for ages 55 and older explains how they get COVID-19 vaccine doses

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 6:25 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Questions have surfaced recently about why one facility in the Omaha-metro area was able to vaccinate some residents younger than the county’s current age requirement.

Nebraska set to get 21% more doses of COVID-19 vaccine is, no doubt, good news for local health departments, which have been clamoring for more as the new phase of shots this week go to those age 80 and older.

This weekend, residents of a west Omaha senior living facility for active adults ages 55 and older will receive their second dose of the COVID vaccine. That has some locals wondering: How did they get the vaccine since Douglas County is only in the 80-and-older phase?

Avidor Omaha at 132nd and Pacific streets opened at the height of the pandemic — around Thanksgiving.

Months ago, its parent company, with 18-facilities across the country (most of them in Florida) applied for — and received — permission to be a part of the national pharmacy program, meaning its vaccinations are separate from the state’s allotment of doses.

“Even though we say we’re 55-plus, we don’t have anyone under the age of 70,” said Chris Shupe. “If it wasn’t available here for the residents, they would still qualify to go to a clinic and receive the vaccine.”

On Sunday, 23 residents whose ages range from 72 to 94 will receive their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine from CVS Pharmacy, as will a handful of staff members.

“They consider (themselves) to be in the age group. They’re just lucky to have it delivered here, and they don’t have to get in a car and go somewhere,” Shupe said. “They don’t think it’s jumping the line. They consider themselves in the same age group, and they are.”

Meanwhile, another clinic this week set up by the Douglas County Health Department and run by Nebraska Medicine, targeted the 80-and-older population Thursday.

Robert and Judy McMaster were among them.

“I like to be protected from the virus. That’s what it’s all about,” Robert said.

“I have a new grandbaby that I haven’t held. I’m anxious to hold her — and see her giggle,” Judy said.

With more doses coming into the state, many are hoping it will speed up what’s been a slow vaccination process for our vulnerable seniors.

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