(KFOR NEWS December 23, 2020) The Mayor’s Office announced late Tuesday afternoon that the first doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Lincoln. The supply is still limited. Health officials will continue using a phased approach and vaccinating priority groups in Phase 1A, which includes health care personnel providing care and treatment to COVID-19 patients. Phase 1A also includes emergency medical technicians (EMTs) as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
“A second safe and effective vaccine is a welcome resource as we continue our vaccination efforts in Lincoln and Lancaster County,” said Mayor Gaylor Baird. “These COVID-19 vaccines will provide protection against the virus, reduce illness, and save lives.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave final approval to Moderna’s two-dose COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, and the first shipments began Sunday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted the recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to use the Moderna vaccine in people 18 and older.
“The goal is to rapidly administer COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we have doses available,” said Lopez. “The addition of Moderna vaccine will allow us to vaccinate more people who are part of our initial phase.”
Lincoln received its first shipments of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last week and those doses quickly went into the arms of health care personnel and EMTs. Hospitals vaccinated providers and will continue to do so based on vaccine availability. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) vaccinated more than 300 EMTs both in Lincoln and Lancaster County since last week and is expected to finish that group prior to the holidays.
The number of doses LLCHD receives is dependent on the supply available from the manufacturers and the amount of vaccine the federal government allocates to Nebraska. If shipments of both vaccines continue to arrive as planned, there will be enough supply for some long-term care facilities to start administering COVID-19 vaccine during the last week of December.
The vaccine is not yet available to the general public. Lopez said LLCHD is working with community partners on locations for public vaccination clinics once the COVID-19 vaccine is more widely available. She said multiple sites are being considered for the clinics, but no final decisions have been made.
Vaccinating Lancaster County’s entire population will take some time. Health officials stress that residents must continue to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community by wearing masks, watching their distance, washing hands, and avoiding crowded places, close contact and confined spaces.
While COVID-19 vaccine development and approval occurred at an accelerated pace, Lopez said no short cuts were taken in the evaluation of safety and effectiveness. The rapid development of the vaccine was made possible by advancements in science, significant investment by the federal government in vaccine development, and the very large clinical trials.
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