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Nebraska's vaccine roll-out strong with room to improve

A doctor proudly displaying the Virus vaccination
Lal Nallath/Getty Images/iStockphoto

After more than a year of tragedy, disruption, and isolation, COVID-19 vaccines offer the promise of returning to a more normal way of life. The virus has taken a particularly high toll on those ages 50 and older, since they are four times more likely to end up in the hospital and 30 times more likely to die than their younger counterparts. Nearly 95% of the more than 530,000 deaths in our nation have been among those age 50+.

It’s essential that Nebraska get the vaccine effort right -- the stakes are too high. The state of Nebraska is now prioritizing vaccinating people 50+, which is essential given their higher vulnerability to illness and death.

The good news is the vaccine roll-out has been fairly smooth in Nebraska, but there is room for improvement. We have many residents still waiting for their chance to be vaccinated.

The federal government has announced we can expect to have enough vaccines for the entire adult population by May 1. The question remains, will Nebraska be ready?

AARP has been actively analyzing best practices from around the country to learn what works and identify areas that need improvement.

Vaccination rates are the strongest measure of performance. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, as of March 23, Nebraska has vaccinated approximately 30% of people age 55+. This number grows each day, but we need to ensure the vaccination process is expedient, efficient, and effective.

Based on AARP’s review, Nebraska’s vaccine registration process gets a ranking of three out of three stars. We have been closely monitoring the vaccine roll-out across the country and have identified many best practices. The most effective registration systems, like Nebraska’s, are centralized, widely accessible, and allow an individual to register and be proactively contacted to schedule an appointment when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. Nebraska’s system includes options for both online ( and phone (833-998-2275) accessibility.

Transparency that ensures equity in vaccine access and distribution is also critical. Nebraska achieves three out of three stars for publicly reporting daily the numbers of people vaccinated with breakdowns by age, gender, race, and ethnicity. This transparent disclosure of information is important to increase public awareness of how vaccines have been allocated and improve confidence in a fair distribution process.

Nebraska must improve plans to address barriers to vaccination for harder-to-reach 50+ individuals – including those who are homebound or in rural or remote areas. Options to reach these communities include mobile and in-home vaccination programs.

Public health professionals must also engage and work with communities across the state – prioritizing the need to earn and build trust within communities of color and with others who may be hesitant to take the vaccine.

In addition to prioritizing access for all people 50+ to the vaccine in Nebraska, AARP is focused on ensuring the 50+ Hispanic/Latino and African American/Black populations in Nebraska have equal access to the vaccine. Nebraska currently ranks only one out of three stars in vaccinating this population. According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard, as of March 23, only 6.4% of Nebraska’s African American/Black and 3.8% of Hispanic/Latino population has been fully vaccinated. Doing more to reach these populations must be a priority in our state.

When it comes to vaccines, people want real and honest facts. They want to know does it work, is it safe, where and when they can get it, and will they have to pay for it. People also want and deserve easy-to-use registration processes and vaccine sites that have accessible locations and hours.

At AARP, we are committed to helping people cut through all the confusion. We fought to make the vaccine free, and now we are pushing to make the vaccination process as easy, safe, and accessible as possible. More information about vaccines in Nebraska can be found at

By helping people get the facts and removing barriers to getting vaccinated, it allows people to focus their energy on what’s important – staying safe and deciding what’s best for themselves and their loved ones.

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