Updated Dec. 21, 2020
We are collecting and answering common COVID-19 questions here. This list will continue to evolve as we learn more. Submit your own anonymous question.
Why do we need a COVID-19 vaccine if social distancing, wearing masks and handwashing prevent the virus from spreading?
Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools available. Covering your mouth and nose with a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others, helps reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others if you have the virus without knowing. But vaccines are even better – they work with your immune system to ensure your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are ever exposed.
The best way to stop this virus is by generating COVID-19-specific immunity within our community. We can achieve this immunity in one of two ways: through illness (natural herd immunity) or through vaccination. Since illness leads to severe disease or death for many, a safe and effective vaccine is a much better alternative.
Preventing COVID-19 spread by social distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask will continue to be important until more Americans are vaccinated.
Should children get the vaccine?
Children will not be given the vaccine at this time. Children will likely become eligible to receive the vaccine once we get more data from the vaccine clinical trials that are now including children.
I have a medical condition or have had a previous reaction to a different vaccine. Should I plan to get the vaccine?
You should discuss any personal medical conditions or vaccine concerns with your doctor. Together, you can determine if a COVID-19 vaccine makes sense for you.
Getting the vaccine
Who will get the vaccine first?
At this time, we are only vaccinating Nebraska Medicine and University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) health care workers who have a high risk for exposure. When supply increases, the State of Nebraska vaccination plan identifies who gets the vaccine first. We will give the first doses to those at highest risk for spreading or contracting the virus, and those at highest risk for death. These groups include:
- Health care workers and first responders
- High-risk groups such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions
Our plans are in alignment with multiple local, state and federal guidelines. We are committed to distributing this vaccine in a fair, ethical and transparent way.
How do I get a vaccine?
We will continue to communicate about vaccine availability to those who are eligible to receive it as we move through this process. Nebraska Medicine is planning a large vaccination response. Supply is expected to increase substantially in 2021. We will provide detailed information when the vaccines are ready for wider distribution. This will include notifying Nebraska Medicine patients.
Is there a waiting list?
A waiting list is not currently available.
When will there be enough vaccines for everyone?
We do not know for sure, but if both Pfizer and Moderna deliver the amount estimated, most of the people who want a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by summer 2021.
It is also possible that the vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca will become available too, which would change this projection.
Vaccine storage and distribution
Which health care providers will have the vaccine?
View a map of COVID-19 vaccine phase 1 health care providers in Nebraska.
Where will Nebraska Medicine give the vaccines?
We have converted a former grocery store to a vaccine administration center. It includes large indoor spaces, so people receiving the vaccine can remain socially distanced. Once vaccines are ready for non-health care workers, vaccines will be available by appointment only. The vaccine doses are not currently stored at this location.
If you’ve already had COVID-19
Will the vaccine help people with lingering long-term effects?
The lingering effects of COVID-19 are concerning, and we still have much to learn about them. If you were already infected, the vaccine is not likely to ease these effects. However, the vaccine may lessen the amount of long-term effects in those who haven’t had a COVID-19 infection.
If I have already had COVID-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
We do not know how long COVID-19 natural immunity lasts. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may wane over time, but we need more studies to understand it better. At this time, we do not know if people who have had COVID-19 need to get vaccinated, but we expect to learn more soon.