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Nebraska now set to get 11,900 Pfizer vaccines next week

December 18, 2020 GMT

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska will get 11,900 additional doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine next week that will be used to treat residents and employees at the state’s long-term care facilities, Gov. Pete Ricketts said Friday.

The announcement at a news conference came just days after state officials said they weren’t expecting any shipments from the company next week because of unspecified “logistical hiccups.” Other states have reported similar problems, but Pfizer issued a statement saying it wasn’t having any production or distribution issues.

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Ricketts said state officials still expect to receive about 32,000 doses of a separate vaccine developed by Moderna, as previously announced. Because of that, he said state officials will hold off on distributing the Pfizer vaccines until the last week of December so they can combine those doses with another expected shipment of 11,900 for use in Nebraska’s hard-hit long-term care facilities.

“What we’re going to do is bank them,” he said at a news conference.

State officials have identified front-line medical workers and people tied to the long-term care industry as the first groups that need to receive the vaccine. Other groups, such as teachers and meatpacking workers, will also get priority. State officials have predicted that the vaccine will be available to the general public in Nebraska by April.

Ricketts said 4,069 Nebraska residents have received initial vaccine doses as of Thursday. Two doses are required with a three- to four-week waiting period between each one, so those residents likely won’t get full immunity until January.

Ricketts also announced that he will proclaim Sunday as a day of prayer to remember the 1,463 people in Nebraska who have died from the virus. His wife, Nebraska first lady Susanne Shore, said the next three days will be deemed a weekend of remembrance and honor. Shore encouraged residents to reach out to people who have lost family members and those who are still working in critical jobs during the pandemic.

“I know we’re not out of the woods right now, but we can begin that journey by connecting and supporting one another,” she said.

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Shore said Nebraska Impact, a nonprofit that works to promote and connect the state, has created an online memorial wall for people to post about loved ones who have died after contracting the virus.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus in Nebraska continues to decline after a sharp increase last month that prompted Ricketts to temporarily tighten social distancing restrictions. State officials reported 602 people hospitalized as of Thursday night, down from the record high of 987 on Nov. 20.

According to the state’s tracking portal, 1,297 new cases were confirmed on Thursday, for a total of 153,400 known infections since the pandemic began. Ricketts said the true number is likely much higher because many people haven’t gotten tested.

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Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte