Those with pre-existing conditions disappointed at Nebraska’s move away from CDC guidelines

10/11 NOW compared the plans of all 50 states, Nebraska is the only one to make this change
10/11 NOW at 5
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:39 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -The state thinks the general public will start getting vaccines in April and May, and that’s good news for those who are healthy. But for those who have underlying conditions, it’s a disappointment. Because it means the state is no longer prioritizing people with illnesses, straying away from CDC recommendations.

Leonard Frede, a Lincoln man, who had a kidney transplant, was weeks away from getting the COVID-19 vaccine after a year of being isolated.

“I take three immune suppressant drugs and blood pressure medicine,” said Leonard Frede. “Eleven pills a day to keep my body from rejecting my new kidney.”

He said no longer being eligible for the vaccine earlier is dangerous for people like him, for whom COVID would likely be a death sentence.

“I’ve been scared to death,” said Frede.

He was supposed to be next in line for the vaccine in Phase 1B. Telling 10/11 NOW he was more than ready for the shot after a year of only leaving home for monthly blood draws and doctor’s appointments.

“It wouldn’t put my life back to normal but it would alleviate some of the fear,” Frede said.

But now, the state’s new vaccine timeline doesn’t take into account people like him. The state is first prioritizing those over 65, then essential workers, then the general population going by age. High-risk illnesses and comorbidities aren’t a factor at all.

“I thought the government was supposed to help the most vulnerable,” said Frede.

10/11 NOW wanted to know if any other states have made the same decision and analyzed the vaccine distribution plans for all 50 states. Twenty one states have people with high-risk comorbidities in Phase 1B. Twenty states have them in Phase 1C, which is what the CDC recommends. Six sates have them in Phase 2, but ahead of the general public. Two states, one of which is Iowa, haven’t said what phase they’ll be in.

Nebraska is alone in removing them from priority list overall.

“I feel let down,” said Frede. “I feel neglected and left out and I feel that for the whole community.”

Leonard is 64, so he’ll be among the first in the general population to get his vaccine, but he says there are many younger people out there who have had transplants or who live in fear just like he does and he’s worried for them too.

Details on the new vaccine plan:

Phase 1A, health care workers and long-term care residents, are finishing up their second doses.

All counties are in Phase 1B, which starts with 65 years and older, and is in the process of getting people like utility workers, correction staff, and educators.

Next up, funeral homes, grocery workers, transportation and USPS Employees. Those are expected to start in early to mid-March.

Phase 1C is now congregate living, which includes inmates and homeless shelters. That should start in mid-March.

Phase 2A, scheduled for April, is the general population age 50 to 64.

Then in May, the final phase, 2B: general population ages 16 to 49. Again, underlying health issues are not listed as a factor in any phases.

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