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Older Nebraskans will be able to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations soon
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Older Nebraskans will be able to sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations soon

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COVID Vaccine

RelyCare LTC pharmacy certified technician Sara Ferguson administer a COVID-19 vaccine at Havelock Manor, Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts said Monday that Nebraskans who are 75 or older may begin to receive COVID-19 vaccinations within the next three weeks.

Citizens will be able to register for vaccination appointments through a new Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services dashboard function that soon will be available online, probably next week, the department's incident commander, Angela Ling, said during a coronavirus news briefing.

Vaccinations will be available at community clinics, health care providers and pharmacies, she said, and the state is working on ways to notify those without internet access.

Older Nebraskans are next on the priority list following ongoing vaccination of frontline health care providers and the residents and staff members at assisted-living facilities in the state.  

The next priority group also includes essential workers, including those in education.

Ricketts indicated he is satisfied with the pace of delivery of vaccinations in Nebraska following receipt of the vaccine, although delivery has been somewhat slowed by the holiday season.

Vaccinations have been delivered at more than 100 long-term care facilities in the state, Ling said.

Nebraska at one point ranked second among the states in delivery of vaccinations, Ricketts noted, and ranks now in the top one-third of states.

As of Monday morning, 94,697 vaccines have been distributed in the state, and 36,360 vaccinations have been administered, including 107 second doses in what is a two-dose routine, according to the state's online dashboard.

Bryan Health was hosting a vaccine clinic Monday at which both employees and providers it works with were receiving second doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. It also was continuing to give first doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

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CHI Health also said the five frontline health care workers who were the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine in Omaha would be receiving their second doses at a media event Monday afternoon.

Ricketts said the state has not been tracking how many eligible Nebraskans have declined the vaccine.

"It is incredibly effective," he said. "There's a lot of protection with the first dose."

Don Walton: Ernie Chambers taught, stood guard and stood in the way

Ling said the state Department of Health and Human Services is "working with community partners" to urge vulnerable populations, including those living in largely Black north Omaha and largely Latino south Omaha, to be open to receiving the vaccine.

Asked whether the vaccine will be available to illegal immigrants who are working in Nebraska's meat-processing plants, Ricketts said meatpackers are not allowed to hire illegal immigrants, so that should not be an issue.

Ricketts said he will provide information during his next briefing Wednesday on the new variant of the virus that has moved into the United States after initially emerging in the United Kingdom. That strain is considered to be more contagious.

Sasse slams effort to overturn Electoral College vote

Answering questions on other matters, the governor said: "Yes, at the end of the day, Congress should certify the results of the Electoral College," confirming the election of President-elect Joe Biden.

But, he said, "it's not unusual to see people object" in Congress as some Republican supporters of President Donald Trump are doing this week. 

Some congressional Democrats have objected in the past, he noted.

If the goal this year is to prompt Congress to create a commission to investigate voter fraud, he said, it would be "good for Congress to do that."

Nebraska plans to embark on vaccinations at long-term care facilities

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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