From the DHHS

The first doses of the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Nebraska today.  The State is expected to receive 4,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the day and 15,600 by week’s end.

 “We are all very excited to know that the Pfizer vaccine has begun to arrive in Nebraska.  And although this marks the beginning of what we hope will be an end to this pandemic, we cannot forget that we must continue to slow the spread,” said Department of Health and Human Services CEO, Dannette R. Smith. “We must continue to be responsible and wear a mask and we must avoid the three Cs: crowded places, close contact and confined places.”

The first shipment arrived at approximately 6:55 a.m. in the State. DHHS is working with local health districts, federally qualified health centers and hospital systems to ensure an expeditious delivery process. Two hospital systems administered the first vaccines today and other recipients are expected to begin administering by tomorrow.

It is important to note that while we know there is much interest from the public in knowing exactly when and where the vaccine is being delivered there are security protocols in place.  The State is asking that Nebraskans keep this in mind.  

The State is not mandating the vaccine, however it is strongly encouraging that people, particularly health care workers, get vaccinated once doses become available. 

“Today marks a path forward as the vaccine will enable our healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic since March to have added protection against this virus,” said Dr. Gary Anthone, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for DHHS.  “This vaccine has endured a significant amount of scrutiny during the clinical trials in which more than 40,000 individuals participated in. We are encouraging all healthcare workers that are in Phase 1A that can be vaccinated to do so as this will offer added protection to those who they are interacting with daily through their work-related duties and their personal lives.”

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are advising women who are breastfeeding, individuals who have experienced allergic reactions to other vaccines and those who have compromised immune systems to discuss the benefits and risks of taking the vaccine with their medical provider before receiving it.

The potential side effects from the vaccine are similar to those experienced by people who receive the flu shot: soreness at the injection site, fever, headaches, and body aches that usually go away within 24 hours. Unless symptoms worsen or linger, there is no need to seek medical care. Pfizer reported no serious side effects from the vaccine, and there were no deaths directly linked to the vaccine itself. The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the COVID-19 vaccine for safety and effectiveness and any long-term or rare side effects. 

The Pfizer vaccine was 90 percent effective in a phase 3 clinical trial. Comparatively, the flu vaccine is generally 40 to 60 percent effective. The COVID-19 vaccine does not contain a live virus and cannot give individuals the coronavirus. 

The Pfizer vaccine does require two doses spaced about three weeks apart to be effective. The same brand of vaccine must be administered for both doses.

The Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was granted Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Friday evening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also voted Saturday to recommend the use of the vaccine for individuals 16 and older under the emergency use authorization. ACIP, is the federal entity that determined the priority groups for the country.