LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – With vaccine availability continuing to expand in Nebraska, Governor Ricketts announced Wednesday that health districts in the State can open up eligibility to anyone 16 or older beginning Monday, April 5th. But because of growing supply, most health districts in the State have already moved ahead. Additionally, pharmacies that participate in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program have already opened access to anyone 18 and older.

How do I get an appointment?

If you’re registered with the State through vaccinate.ne.gov/en-US/, your local health district will contact you to make an appointment when they are vaccinating people in your eligibility group.

Currently, the following Health Districts have not yet indicated they are ready to move to vaccinating all eligible adults: Central District (40+) Sarpy/Cass (50+) Lincoln/Lancaster County (55+) and Douglas (45+).

If your local health district is vaccinating your age group, you can check with them to see if they’re holding any vaccine clinics or have appointment availability. Some districts in western Nebraska have told us they have availability for people from anywhere in the State.

If you’re looking to find a vaccine sooner, you can search for appointments at pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. These include Hy-Vee, Walmart, Kohll’s, and a number of other local and regional pharmacies.

In general, appointments have been more difficult to find in the Lincoln, Omaha, and Tri-cities areas, but there is new availability almost daily. The CDC has a VaccineFinder website that shows where certain vaccines are available. However, it doesn’t show whether there are appointments to receive the vaccine.

One popular tool to search a variety of pharmacies for available appointments is Vaccinespotter, which will quickly search local Hy-vee, Walmart, Walgreens and Safeway locations. Someone has even created a Twitter account that tweets appointment availability as it changes.

If you can’t find an appointment where you live, if you’re willing to drive you can likely find more availability the further west you go in the State.

What vaccine can I get?

Currently, three vaccines are authorized and recommended to prevent COVID-19: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.

Thus far, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those aged 16 years and older, and the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccines have been approved for those aged 18 years and older. The Pfizer vaccine requires two shots three weeks apart. The Moderna vaccine requires two shots four weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.

How do I know which vaccine I would receive?

The pharmacies and health districts can tell you which vaccine you’ll be receiving when you make your appointment. Most health districts in the State are currently administering either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Some pharmacy locations have been administering the Johnson & Johnson 1-dose vaccine.

You can find which types of vaccines are available at pharmacy locations through the CDC’s VaccineFinder tool, and the type is also listed on Vaccinespotter.

Availability of all three vaccines, and especially the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are expected to continue to increase in coming weeks.

How effective are the vaccines?

According to the CDC, each of the three authorized COVID-19 vaccines had 100% efficacy against COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths. In phase three clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine had 95% efficacy and the Moderna vaccine had 94% efficacy in preventing any severity of COVID-19. Both Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. A phase three clinical trial showed the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine had 100% efficacy at preventing any severity of COVID-19 (while being studied in regions with new variant strains of COVID-19), and only requires one dose.

You can learn more about the three available vaccines from the CDC.

Are there side effects after being vaccinated?

According to DHHS, mild side effects like a sore arm and fatigue are some of the most common symptoms with COVID-19 vaccines. While many people will have no symptoms, others may experience headaches, chills or a fever. These side effects are normal and a sign your body is building protection and you should be feeling better within a few days.

When am I considered “fully vaccinated”?

According to the CDC, you are considered fully vaccinated:

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine

The CDC recommends you continue taking prevention steps until you are fully vaccinated.

Where can I find more information?

DHHS and the CDC both have vaccine information available on their websites.

The DHHS COVID-19 information line is available to help answer questions on COVID-19 or vaccination. Available by calling (531) 249-1873 or (833) 998-2275, the line is staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT.

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