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Douglas County working to adjust vaccine distribution as CDC updates age group recommendations

Adjusting the tier to include those age 65 and older would tack on another 45,000 people
Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 6:16 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With the CDC updating its COVID-19 vaccine guidelines on Tuesday, recommending those 65 and older get included along with those ages 75 and older, Douglas County health officials are trying to figure out if they can make it work.

“I want to share with the community and with you all. We hope we will be done with Phase 1 by the end of January,” said Dr. Adi Pour, director of the Douglas County Health Department. “A lot of it depends on the vaccine that is coming into the state of Nebraska and then be allocated to locales.”

If they can get enough vaccine, the plan is to move on to the next phase, which starts next month and includes those ages 75 and older. In Douglas County, that’s roughly 30,000 people; tack on another 45,000 if they follow the CDC’s recommendation to also include those age 65 and older.

“I see it more of a logistical challenge that we need to think about,” Dr. Pour said. “We need to have good systems in place that people know where to go, which also means potentially more sites, which means more staff too.”

A release from the county last week outlined the following timeline for vaccination groups:

  • Mid-December to end of January: Phase 1A, including healthcare workers, long-term care residents and staff
  • February to end of March: Ages 75 and older, first-responders, frontline workers who cannot work from home or with social distancing, educators
  • April-May: Ages 65-74, and those ages 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions, certain other workers, congregate settings such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters
  • June-October: everyone else

When asked whether the state would make adjustments based on the CDC’s new guidelines, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said they’ve already been talking about making some changes for that age group.

“We’ve been talking with local health departments and hospitals with regards to how we’d roll that out and implement that, so I will say ‘stay tuned’; you will see that we will be making some changes in regards to 65 and older,” the governor said during his news conference on Tuesday.

Dr. Pour said Tuesday they’ll be talking with the state and hope to have a decision in the next few days on whether Douglas County will move to include the additional age group.

She also noted that the health department is working to set up a portal on its website where people will be able to sign-up for the vaccine.

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