Nebraska To Get Fewer Early COVID Vaccine Doses Than Expected

      Gov. Pete Ricketts says Nebraska is getting ready to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer next week, but will be getting fewer doses than expected this month.

The FDA is reviewing the vaccine Thursday with approval expected shortly and release of the vaccine to the states over the weekend.

     Ricketts says Nebraska’s first week total will still be nearly 16,000 doses, but that will be all for December instead of another 50,000 over the following 2 weeks and 30,000-plus doses of the vaccine from Moderna.

Vaccines won’t be widely available for the general public until April or May. 

       The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at roughly 90-degrees below zero Fahrenheit and a relatively few number of Nebraska hospitals can provide that, with none in the Panhandle.

As a result, the west will be getting the Moderna vaccine, which is kept a 5-below. The FDA will review it next Thursday. 

      Ricketts says vaccine will go first to hospital workers, staff at long-term care facilities, and emergency medical services personnel – those on the front-line in dealing with the coronavirus – which doesn’t mean everyone at a hospital or nursing home.

The Pfizer vaccine requires 2 doses given 3 weeks apart. It’s about 52% effective after the first dose and 95% after the second. The Moderna vaccine requires just one dose.

      The state vaccination plan gives priority after health care workers, long-term care staffers, and first responders to those in education, food and agriculture, transportation, and utilities.

       After that, it’s those over 65, vulnerable populations including disabled and homeless people, and those living in congregate settings like prisons or universities.

       South Dakota’s initial allotments of vaccine will also go to frontline medical workers. Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon says the state is expecting enough vaccine for over 22,000 people to arrive in the coming weeks. 

      An estimated 19,000 health care workers will be offered a vaccine, followed by 11,000 residents of elderly care facilities will be prioritized.