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Vaccines to-go: Hundreds get vaccinated at Lincoln's first drive-thru clinic
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Vaccines to-go: Hundreds get vaccinated at Lincoln's first drive-thru clinic

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Dozens of Americans are rolling up their sleeves for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine -- this time, shots tweaked to guard against a worrisome mutated version of the virus.

You can now get your vaccine to-go in Lincoln.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services opened a drive-thru vaccination clinic Wednesday at its Test Nebraska site outside Gateway Mall in hopes of making it easier to get the coronavirus vaccine.

It's the first clinic of its kind in Lincoln and just the second in Nebraska — the state opened a drive-thru clinic in north Omaha earlier this month.

The Lincoln clinic was originally set to offer the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine before the state paused its use Tuesday, DHHS incident commander Angie Ling said.

But workers were able to pivot quickly, Ling said, switching to Moderna doses for Wednesday's clinic. About 1,000 shots were expected to be administered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to those who registered for the vaccine through the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

The process is simple — drive up, get in line, take a quick screening, then wait your turn. A health care worker administers the shot through your car window. Then you're asked to stick around for 15 minutes for monitoring.

In total, a 20- to 30-minute process, Ling said.

"People don't like to go stand in line; here, they can stay in the comfort of their car, in their bubble," Ling said. "It's a win-win situation."

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Lydia Hansen, a college student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, got her first dose of the vaccine Wednesday. She hopes it will help protect her and her family when she travels home to Minnesota. She chose the drive-thru clinic because it was convenient. 

"I kind of figured it would be more smooth and quicker, and it definitely has been. There wasn't really a wait," she said. "This is something we can all do for everyone." 

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Dylan Henry misses going to concerts, so he was "pretty stoked" to his first shot at Gateway Mall, too.

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"It's the light at the end of the tunnel," Henry said right after receiving his shot. "Everyone's heroes here."

The short wait didn't bother him, either — "That's nothing," he said. "We've been waiting for months."

The state will host another drive-thru clinic Saturday and plans to hold them twice a week, but that depends on whether supply can meet demand. 

"That's the biggest thing — we had secure product until the Johnson & Johnson pause, so we'll see what the outcome is with that and kind of go from there," Ling said.

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All 50 states have halted the use of the J&J vaccine after both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration recommended doing so.

The shot has been tied to rare blood clots in six people who received the vaccine.

Nearly 7 million have gotten the J&J jab in the U.S., but only 31,500 doses have been administered in Nebraska. That's because the state has been relying more on the Pfizer and Moderna versions to drive its vaccination effort. 

The state has about 33,000 Johnson & Johnson doses on hand and expects to receive only 1,100 more doses this week. That's compared to the 90,250 doses of Pfizer and Moderna doses it expects to receive this week alone.

Nebraska will pause use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

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Education reporter/Night content coordinator

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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