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Lack of supply prompts county to reduce vaccinations

By Bob Conrad
A mock-up of the COVID vaccine.

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Washoe County Health District officials today said a lack of vaccine supplies from the federal government are prompting the district to scale back vaccinations. The health district is dropping two of its vaccination PODs (points of distribution) citing a lack of vaccines from the federal government.

“We will be shutting down and canceling some of our PODs and maximizing the days we operate in much larger numbers,” said the health district’s Jim English. “We are not going to be operating nearly as much as we would like.”

Many seniors and front-line health workers remain unvaccinated.

“Our vaccine availability has decreased,” English added. “We are pushing out the vaccine as quickly as we can get it. We’re on schedule to go through all the vaccine we have.”

School district and childcare staff still need vaccinations, and priority groups are still unable to get vaccinations. English also said that the high-priority 70-plus population is still receiving vaccines but the next tier down, those older than 65, will have to wait.

Health district Public Information Officer Scott Oxarart last week said some priority groups may have to wait a month or more before they can get the vaccine.

Those who have received the first dose of the vaccine will still be able to get the second dose, despite the reduced supply.

English called the situation extremely frustrating.

WCHD's James English talks to media after the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine in Washoe County. Image: Ty O'Neil
WCHD’s James English talks to media after the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine in Washoe County. Image: Ty O’Neil

“We’re pretty frustrated because we have all the pieces in place, and our regional partners do [as well], and now we’re at the point that we don’t have the vaccine to distribute and put into arms,” he added. “The only positive out of this is we can plan to have all the pieces in place for when the vaccine is available. This will allow our staff [and volunteers] to get a break.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also today demanded answers from the feds for why Nevada has such a low share of vaccines. About 4% of Nevada’s population has received the vaccine, while states such as West Virginia (9.2%), New Mexico (7.8%) and Alaska (10.7%) have higher percentages of citizens vaccinated. Only Idaho and Missouri have lower rates than Nevada’s.

“We need our fair share of vaccine doses to stand up and sustain successful vaccination efforts to reach Nevadans in an equitable fashion. Through this letter I am asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to look into why Nevada is so low on the allocation list, and more important, to find ways to increase our allocation both immediately and for the long term,” he said.

Sisolak said, “Nevada has received the second-lowest number of vaccine doses per capita among all U.S. states so far” in a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “I would like to seek additional clarification regarding what population figures the federal government is using to determine Nevada’s … allocation, to ensure the figures accurately reflect the State’s population.”

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