Ricketts says state vaccination opening up, will receive his shot Saturday

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that the state will allow its health districts to open vaccines to all Nebraskans 16 and older starting Monday.

The governor said Nebraska is ranked 12th in the nation by the CDC in vaccinations per 100,000 people and 21st in the number of doses used.

Noting an increase in positive cases in the past three weeks, and in increase in hospitalizations since Monday, Gov. Ricketts reminded people to continue taking precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"We don't want you spreading it in the community," Ricketts said.

Dr. Gary Anthone said the state is currently trying to determine if the increasing numbers are the sign of another surge or the result of increased testing. Dr. Anthone said there were approximately 50 additional cases in the past week, but notes there were also roughly 1,500 additional tests performed. Anthone also said the state is monitoring new variants in Nebraska.

"If we can keep people signing up for the vaccine, we can prevent this surge, if there is a surge," Anthone said.

Anthone did note that there have been approximately 15 cases of "vaccine breakthrough," in which vaccinated people tested positive. He said that is "to be expected," as none of the vaccines have 100% efficacy. He said the numbers cannot be confirmed yet, but said the number of positive cases in fully vaccinated people accounts for "less than one tenth of one percent."

In urging Nebraskans to sign up on the state's coronavirus vaccination list, Ricketts said he had received an email that he was eligible and scheduled his shot for Saturday afternoon in Omaha.