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COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in area soon

COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in area soon

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ASHLAND – With the approval of a second COVID-19 vaccine, more doses are arriving in the state and in the area.

Three Rivers Public Health Department released a statement on Monday that said the district should receive some doses by the end of the week. Three Rivers covers Saunders, Dodge and Washington counties. The statement did not say which county would receive the vaccine first.

“Please be patient, the vaccine is on its way,” the statement read.

Health departments, federally-qualified health centers and hospital systems across the state are working with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to ensure timely delivery of the vaccine.

The state developed a phased approach to administering the vaccine. According to the Nebraska COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, Phase 1A includes health care personnel and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. First responders and workers in the food/agricultural, utilities and transportation industries join educators in Phase 1B. Vaccinations will be given to elderly over the age of 75, vulnerable populations and people living in congregate settings (colleges, jails, etc.) in Phase 1C.

The first company to receive approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was Pfizer. Last week the first doses of the vaccine were distributed. As of Monday, nearly 9,000 Nebraskans had received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which requires a second dose in 21 days, according to the DHHS.

Moderna was granted an Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA over the weekend. An anticipated 32,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine will be shipped to the state this week, the DHHS reports.

Also this week, another 11,700 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to arrive in Nebraska. The DHHS said all of the Pfizer vaccine that will arrive in the next month will be reserved for long-term care facilities in the state. The state has launched the Federal Pharmacy Partership for Long-term Care Program, which will begin administering the vaccine at long-term care facilities on Dec. 28.

The public will be vaccinated in Phase 2. DHHS said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not announced a date for public distribution, but it is estimated that there won’t be enough supplies for mass vaccination until spring.

Vaccinations will not be mandatory in the state, but health care workers are urged to participate when doses become available.

The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective and the Moderna vaccine is 94% effective based on three clinical trials. The flu vaccine, in comparison, is 40 to 60% effective. The vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give the recipient COVID-19.

Much like side effects from the flu vaccine, there can be soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches and body aches. These usually last only 24 hours. No serious side effects have been reported.

Even after receiving the vaccine, Three Rivers recommends individuals practice good hand hygiene, wear masks and avoid crowds until transmission rates decrease.

Another COVID-19 related death has been reported in Saunders County. Three Rivers said a man in his 60s died from the virus last week, bringing the total to 13 in the county. There have been 15 deaths in Washington County and 55 in Dodge County so far.

There have been 1,641 positive cases in Saunders County. Of those, 1,168 have recovered. Just over 9,000 tests have been administered.

The Community Risk Dial in Saunders County has decreased in recent weeks. Last week it was 3.29, down from 3.43 the previous week. The risk dial is based on eight measures – positivity rate for the week, change in number of cases from the previous week, average number of hospitalized patients in the Omaha Metro Area for the week, average percent of available adult ICU beds in the Omaha Metro Area for the week, average percent of available ventilators in the Omaha Metro Area for the week, the percent of COVID-19 cases classified as community spread and the weekly percent of contacts Three Rivers was able to contact and identify close contacts of within 48 hours.

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