In-depth look into Nebraska’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

Coronavirus

LINCOLN, Neb. (KCAU) – Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced Monday the state’s plan of distributing a coronavirus vaccine.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said the vaccine will play a critical role in protecting Nebraskans and slowing its spread.

The vaccination plan is meant to be transparent and to “ensure fair and equitable access.” The agency said the plan may change as there are still many unknowns that still remain regarding the vaccine.

In the plan, once the CDC distributes the vaccine, the state of Nebraska will use a phased approach to introduce the vaccine to critical populations and providers first.

Phase 1 A includes providing it to healthcare personnel, including long-term care staff, and those with direct and indirect exposure to patients or infections materials.

Phase 1 B will then provide the vaccine to those 65 years old or older, in long-term care facilities, or who have certain underlying medical conditions.

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease}
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system} from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions. such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitush

This phase will also provide the vaccine to vulnerable or congregate population as well as those who are considered essential critical infrastructure workforces, such as first responders, teachers, and food processors.

Phase 2 is assuming there will be a larger availability of the vaccine. Doses will be available and will be provided to local health departments who will then provide them to public health sites, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and urgent care clinics.

In Phase 3, the DHHS plan said this phase represents a shift when the vaccination will be access openly, similar to the traditional network of vaccinations.

The DHHS had to make numerous assumptions in its planning. One assumption is that the vaccine will be allocated to each state proportional to its population.

The planned assumptions also say that doses of the vaccine will be given twice separated by 21 to 28 days. Plans for mass vaccinations will probably continue to include social distancing appointments, and PPE to not put patients at risk of still contracting COVID-19. In addition to the coronavirus vaccine, the seasonal influenza vaccination will be especially important to limit another respiratory illness.

The process for the actual vaccinations will use the same model the DHS uses to distribute under the Vaccines for Children program. If there are insufficient vaccine doses, DHHS staff will prioritize critical populations through a number of factors, including a county’s positivity and hospitalization rates. Any doses wasted will be required to be reported.

The DHHS plans that messaging about the vaccination program will need to be clear and effective. They plan to establish contactin with organizations, employers, and leaders to coordinate an information campaign. They will also work with local health departments similarly. The messaging will not only communicate the availability of the vaccine but also address the myths or mistrust about it.

To indicate any possibility of a safety issue with the vaccine, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System will be utilized to look for any unusual or unexpected patterns of adverse reactions. Providers will also need to keep an eye on any possible safety issues.

Read the full plan below.


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