The Food and Drug Administration is in the final steps of approving two COVID-19 vaccines prior to shipments being distributed throughout the country, including Nebraska.
“Regional West expects the initial stock of the vaccine to be delivered in the next two to three weeks,” said Paulette Schnell, Regional West Community Health Director and Scotts Bluff County Health Director.
The vaccine will be distributed in waves. The first wave will have three phases (A,B, and C).
Phase A distribution will go to healthcare and long term care facilities; Phase B will include first responders, the education sector, food and agriculture, corrections staff, and utilities and transportation; while Phase C will include people who are 65 years of age and older, vulnerable populations, and congregate living, including nursing homes.
Future waves of distribution have not been announced, however, vaccine distribution for the general public is anticipated in early spring 2021.
“There are different types of vaccines. The first vaccines to provide immunity for the COVID-19 virus will not contain a live virus, but instead will introduce a protein associated with the virus to your body’s immune system. Your body will then create antibodies to combat the virus should you encounter it later,” said Regional West Chief Medical Officer Matthew Bruner, MD, FACOG.
The vaccine will be given in two shots, spaced either 21 or 28 days apart, based on which vaccine you receive. You must receive the same vaccine for both shots for it to be effective. Through trials, both vaccines have proven to be 95% effective. That means of those vaccinated for the trials, only 5% developed COVID-19 when exposed to the virus and their symptoms were mild.
“We need to continue to practice social distancing and wearing masks when in public, but having the vaccine available will be a game changer,” said Dr. Bruner. “This will help us move forward and help protect those who are the most vulnerable in our communities.”
More information will be provided about general public clinics when available.