OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Now that coronavirus vaccines are becoming more widely available in Nebraska, many residents are scouring the internet in search of an appointment to get a shot.
Michael Nollett of Lincoln said he hopes to land an appointment soon, after pharmacies participating in a federal program in the state opened up vaccine eligibility to all adults on Monday. Local health officials remain focused on vaccinating people aged 50 and older, although some public health districts in rural areas are also offering the shots to all adults. Officials have said they expect to make the vaccines available to the general public statewide by late April or early May.
“There’s a lot of imperfect things about the way it’s being done,” Nollett told the Omaha World-Herald. “I’m hopeful with this new thing opening up (Monday) that I’ll be able to make some headway somewhere.”
More than 325,000 Nebraskans have registered with the state online to get a vaccine. That system notifies people when they are eligible to get the shots at their local health department, which Nollett doesn’t quite qualify for yet in Lancaster County at age 47. Pharmacies participating in the federal program are offering appointments to anyone online, but they fill up quickly.
Hy-Vee spokeswoman Christina Gayman said the grocery store chain expects more interest now that the age requirements have been lowered.
“We’re just asking people to be patient,” Gayman said. “We will open up appointments as soon as we receive it. Rest assured, we are working as hard as we can.”
Kohll’s Pharmacy has been getting a steady stream of calls about the vaccine since it began offering the shots at its Omaha and Lincoln locations, pharmacist David Kohll said. He said the stores have been administering between 850 and 1,000 shots a day, and he hopes to start receiving more doses soon.
“Everybody’s working hard and doing a good job to get everybody vaccinated,” Kohll said.
The state said Tuesday that 320,999 people have been fully vaccinated, which represents 21.6% of the Nebraska population ages 16 or older.
Nebraska reported 359 cases of the virus and two new deaths Tuesday to give the state a total of 208,912 cases and 2,177 deaths. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Nebraska has increased over the past two weeks from 246.57 on March 14 to 283.14 on Sunday.
The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state declined to 102 Tuesday. That number has been falling steadily since peaking at 987 in November.