Nebraska has received its first shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after the FDA granted the company emergency use authorization last week.
The approval of the one-time shot has given Nebraska a third tool in fighting the pandemic. The state has been allotted 15,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses this week, Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a Wednesday press conference.
The governor said there would be a “few-week gap” between Johnson & Johnson shipments, but more doses are expected to arrive toward the end of the month.
Meanwhile, Moderna and Pfizer will continue to ship weekly doses to Nebraska.
Angie Ling, incident commander for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said the state was allocated 23,400 Pfizer doses and 19,000 Moderna doses this week.
Because of delays in vaccine shipments last month, Nebraska has received three weeks’ worth of doses in the past 10 days, Ling said. More than 78,000 doses have been administered statewide in that time frame.
As of Wednesday, Nebraska had been allocated a total of 594,745 doses since December, with 447,849 (75.3%) of those having been administered, according to the DHHS. The 447,000 doses administered has moved Nebraska from 45th in the U.S. to 18th in total shots administered, Ricketts said.
Nebraska soon will be able to transition into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution, the governor said, and the state will continue with a similar distribution approach with regard to underlying health conditions.
“Age is the number one contributor and has the biggest correlation to risk of hospitalization and death,” Ricketts said. “As we get into Phase 2, we are going to continue to prioritize by age.”
Ninety percent of the Phase 2 inoculation focus will be directed toward 50- to 64-year-olds, Ricketts said, and the remaining 10% of Phase 2 vaccines will be set aside for individuals with comorbidities.
Local health directors and doctors are being tasked with concocting a system during Phase 2 to get shots into arms of those with comorbidities.
The governor also encouraged Nebraskans to register for a vaccination regardless of which distribution phase they fall under. Because local health department signups didn't always include questions about health risks, residents should register with the state to provide that information, he said.
In addition to vaccination updates, Ricketts also provided state hospitalization numbers.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 150 coronavirus hospitalizations in the state, with 34% of hospital beds, 34% of ICU beds and 78% of ventilators available. Wednesday marked the first time since late August that the state’s coronavirus hospitalization percentage dipped under 4%.