Gov. Pete Ricketts

(Lincoln) -- Nebraskans will be encouraged to take the coronavirus vaccine--when or if it becomes available.

But, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts stopped short of calling for requiring residents to be vaccinated. Speaking at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, Ricketts says each state is required to have a plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine by November 1st. However, the governor says it will be up to residents to decide whether they should get it.

"I hope that people have really observed how we've approached this whole pandemic," said Ricketts, "to explain to people what the rules were, and how they can best slow the spread of the virus. But, we did not do a shelter in place order, we did not do a mask mandate. We will not be doing a vaccine mandate, either."

However, Ricketts says residents will be encouraged to be vaccinated in order to stop the virus' spread in the months ahead.

"We know we're going to have to manage this virus for the coming months," he said, "and that when we do have a vaccine, we encourage people to get vaccinated. The federal government will have a priority on who gets vaccinated. We'll have more information on that down the road. But, you can imagine it'll be things like health care workers, first responders, and people who are in those vulnerable categories. There will be a process to that. But, we'll certainly encourage people to get the vaccination."

Schools may be another story when it comes to coronavirus vaccinations. Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt says state officials are reviewing whether to require students to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, similar to others.

"We have just started conversations about what that might look like as a vaccine becomes available," said Blomstedt. "But, there are requirements for vaccinations for students as they enter school--you know, all the typical measles, mumps, Rubella, those types of things. So, we're really looking at what those protocols should look like as it relates to the coronavirus, and hopefully, we can monitor that."

Ultimately, Blomstedt says it may be an issue for the Nebraska Legislature to decide.

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