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The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department hosted a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Thursday, February 18, 2020.

When the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department completed vaccinating health workers in Phase 1A of the state COVID-19 immunization schedule on Friday, it focused on a more uncertain Phase 1B.

The health department reported that more than 4,500 health professionals received their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at a mass clinic in the Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday.

Among them was Brandon Chapek, a dentist at Capital Dental, who like most people on Friday, received his first shot at a similar clinic on January 23rd.

Chapek said he had a sore arm for about 12 hours after his first shot and he realized that it could potentially have slightly more serious side effects this time.

But he said he and his staff, who also received their second vaccinations, looked forward to getting extra security and protection against the virus.

“They’re pretty excited about it,” Chapek said of his staff.

While he and most of his staff are young and healthy, they have people in their lives – parents, grandparents, patients – who are at risk of complications from the virus.

“That was really their main focus,” he said. “They want to be protected so that they can protect others.”

The Department of Health is now fully focused on Phase 1B, including those over 65 and frontline workers.

Health Director Pat Lopez said two clinics are planned in the arena next week to give a second dose to people aged 80 and over who received their first dose at a mass clinic on Feb.5.

In addition, the plans are a little further up in the air.

Lopez said she doesn’t yet know if there will be clinics with the first dose next week, largely because the department doesn’t yet know what vaccine supplies will be next week.

State officials said Thursday that widespread winter weather across the country had caused delays in COVID-19 vaccine shipments.

Several health counties in Nebraska were forced to cancel or downsize scheduled vaccination clinics this week because they had not received some or all of their assigned vaccine supply.

Lopez said the local health department received about 5,800 doses of Pfizer but didn’t get the Moderna vaccine it was supposed to get. As of Thursday night, things were still up in the air when further vaccine supplies will arrive, she said.

Early Friday, Governor Pete Ricketts said he was told that vaccines should arrive by the end of this week. “Hopefully they show up today or tomorrow.”

Another factor making vaccination schedules difficult is that after next week, the health department will lose use of the arena for two weeks due to the state high school basketball tournaments for boys and girls.

Lopez said the health department is reviewing some other vaccination clinic locations these weeks and will finalize the plans soon. One place she previously mentioned as a vaccination clinic facility is the Lancaster Event Center, although major events are also on the agenda – March 5-7 (boat, sports, and travel shows) and March 12-14 March (Nebraska Builders Home and Garden) Show.

And the department will look into another change that was announced on Thursday.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said it would remove younger people at high health risk from Phase 1B and focus on vaccinating those 65-year-olds and older workers, as well as frontline workers.

Lopez said she didn’t really have any information on whether this would change local vaccination schedules.

“We’re working on it now and will have more details for you later,” she said.

Ricketts said the change was made because data shows that the biggest contributor to the COVID-19 death rate is age, with 83% of all deaths in the state occurring between the ages of 65 and older.

Focusing on the elderly “will be the fastest, most effective way to get most people vaccinated,” he said.

The governor said he believes vaccines should be available to the general public in either April or May, and once those start, priority will again be determined by age, with people 50 and over being the first to get their shots to get.

Lancaster County had a few separate clinics for people 65 and over with serious health problems such as lung or kidney disease and cancer. Lopez said it was likely that this would do something similar for the group 50 and over.

As of Friday morning, 65,390 vaccine doses – 46,866 first doses and 18,524 second doses – had been administered in Lancaster County, the health department reported.

Nebraska is pushing those with high-risk diseases off the vaccine priority list

The state is trying to keep as much COVID-19 vaccine on hold as possible for the state’s oldest residents in the coming weeks and months.

Lancaster County teachers were due to be vaccinated in early March. The health department says the offer will remain constant

“We are thrilled that we can now see the starting line for educators in this race against the virus,” Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

A man’s death in Nebraska is unlikely to be vaccine-related, says the chief medical officer

The man, who was in his late 40s, had a number of pre-existing health problems and was living in a long-term care facility.

Photos: COVID-19 Lincoln Healthcare Worker Vaccination Clinic


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