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Ricketts urges Nebraskans to take any available COVID-19 vaccine

Ricketts urges Nebraskans to take any available COVID-19 vaccine

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Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday urged Nebraskans to get vaccinated "as soon as possible" for COVID-19 without regard to which brand of the vaccine may be immediately available to them.

The newly approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine will soon join Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that already are in use in Nebraska with 15,000 doses on order this week.

Those doses would be added to the 18,720 Pfizer doses and 17,000 Moderna doses that are flowing into Nebraska on a weekly basis now.

While Johnson and Johnson trials did not achieve the same level of protection from the virus that Pfizer and Moderna displayed in their early trials, Ricketts pointed to the new vaccine's 100% success in preventing death from exposure to COVID-19 along with the advantage of its one-shot routine.

Pfizer and Moderna both require two vaccinations.

Johnson and Johnson trials showed its vaccine to be 85% effective in preventing severe or critical cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

That compared to Pfizer and Moderna trials that showed their vaccines to be 95% effective against symptomatic cases of the coronavirus.

Ricketts took note of the 154th anniversary of Nebraska's statehood at his news briefing, following what has been "a tough couple of years," beginning with record flooding in 2019 and then the long battle against the pandemic in 2020.

But results from that battle continue to be encouraging, the governor said, with COVID-19 hospitalizations in Nebraska declining to a current level of 158 and a record number of vaccinations occurring daily.

Vaccinations are centering on Nebraskans older than 65 and front-line workers such as police officers and teachers.

Ricketts said he hopes to be able to begin vaccinating the general public in April or May. 

Asked if the state plans to target the Johnson and Johnson vaccine into harder-to-reach communities, including those that may contain racial minorities, because of the relative convenience or ease of a one-shot vaccination and the fact that it, unlike the other vaccines, does not need to be frozen, Ricketts said no.

"We're not going to target," he said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSdon

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