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Governor announces Nebraska’s plan to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Oct. 26, 2020 at 9:54 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 8:36 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Nebraska could start receiving its first doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year, but its not anticipated it will be widely available until spring 2021.

Monday, state officials laid out their plan to distribute it.

One thing they made very clear, was the vaccine will not be mandatory.

The Department of Health and Human Services created a plan with three phases.

Phase one A will provide vaccines to frontline healthcare workers, including those who work with patients in the emergency room, long-term care facilities, urgent and primary care providers.

Phase one B will provide vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities, people 65 and older, people with certain underlying health conditions and vulnerable and congregate populations, like those in minority groups and prison inmates.

Phase two won’t happen until the vaccine is available to the general public. The state said they plan to have drive-through vaccine clinics across the state, though that likely won’t come for months after the vaccine is approved.

“When it first comes out it will be really limited so we need to make sure healthcare workers are vaccinated first so they can staff those drive through clinics,” Jeri Weberg-Bryce, immunization program manager with DHHS said.

Weberg-Bryce said the vaccine will be free, paid for by the federal government.

She said she understands some people are apprehensive about getting the vaccine.

“I understand those concerns and us providers want to respect that,” Weberg-Bryce said. “But we want to look at the science and those conversations should happen between patient and provider.”

To see a full copy of the plan click here.

Matthew Blomstedt, the Nebraska Commissioner of Education, also spoke at the press conference.

Blomstedt discussed the spending of $12.5 million dollars allocated through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, a grant through the CARES act.

Blomstedt said they’re using that money to buy more than $25,000 laptops or tablets for rural schools across Nebraska.

This comes after school districts were surveyed over the summer. Blomstedt said in that survey, districts indicated they didn’t have all of the devices needed to accomodate remote learning.

They’re hoping to have all of these devices delivered to schools before the end of the year.

“As we enter the winter it’s obvious there are more concerns about where we may be with education, we are hoping to keep students in person as much as possible but we believe these additional devices will be quite helpful to keep schools open and moving,” Blomstedt said.

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