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Delayed shipments slow COVID-19 vaccinations in Nemaha County

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 10:37 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Inconsistent shipments are causing vaccination problems for people in southeast Nebraska.

“We’ve had to call people up to three times saying I’m so sorry, but we have to reschedule because of circumstances,” said Maxcey Smith, Director of Quality, Nemaha County Hospital.

At Nemaha County Hospital they know each week how many doses of the vaccine they’re getting, but when they get it is up in the air.

“We have a conference call on Monday and we know how much vaccine we’re going to get, but we don’t always obtain the vaccine in a rapid fashion,” said Susi VonBergen, COO, Nemaha County Hospital.

Last week there was no shipment of vaccine at all, and this week it didn’t arrive until Wednesday. With limited staff, they simply can’t get everything organized fast enough to administer the shots this week forcing them to once again delay.

So far they’ve had to push back shots three times because of slow or no shipments at all.

“That causes a delay with our scheduling and again contacting our patients and being able to administer the vaccine,” said VonBergen.

With limited people-power, it takes more time to get things organized. They can’t receive the vaccine one day and administer it the next.

“We all have other jobs and other responsibilities within the organization,” said VonBergen, noting there’s not always staff available to give the shots.

“Working in a small critical care hospital we have very limited resources when it comes to staff, we aren’t able to pull from a large pool,” said VonBergen.

And then there are all those appointments to schedule; that too taking staff and time.

“It’s not just calling people,” said Smith. “What if they don’t answer you know, it’s not just a simple phone call, we have to leave messages, we have to take return phone calls.”

And some calls are more difficult than others, amid frustration and fear.

“We are getting some follow-up it’s very frustrating to our community,” said VonBergen. “They see that Omaha and Lincoln are getting the vaccine, and then it’s ‘well, why aren’t we getting the vaccine’.”

VonBergen said there’s talk of the state taking over the scheduling of vaccination appointments, which would help reduce the pressure on smaller counties. In the meantime, she said, they’re going to do their best to start catching up next week.

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