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Health district to schedule 17,000 vaccine appointments (updated)


The Washoe County Health District (WCHD) has received an allotment of COVID-19 vaccine large enough to operate its point of distribution (POD) every day during the coming two weeks, including over the weekend of March 20-21. The health district plans to vaccinate 17,000 people during this time.

According to WCHD’s James English, the health district has now invited all workers in the end-to-end essential goods supply chain category–those working in manufacturing, transport, distribution and sale of essential items–within the “Frontline/Essential Workforce” prioritization lane for vaccination and is now partnering with the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce to help push out a link for employers to share with their workers to ensure they’re aware of their eligibility to get the shot.

English advised that people who are not hearing from their employers regarding vaccine eligibility need to ask them. Businesses and their workers can also check on eligibility through the covid19washoevaccine.com website and can request to participate if they do not see their business listed after searching for it.

English said the health district expects to start inviting people who work in the communications and utilities infrastructure sector next week.

During a press briefing with the health district on Thursday, Travis Anderson, an emergency medicine physician with the Northern Nevada Medical Center, announced that the hospital had discharged its last COVID-19 patient last week. He acknowledged the situation could change but said the hospital was pleased to currently have no COVID-19 patients hospitalized for care.

As additional allotments of vaccine have arrived in Nevada, hospitalizations for COVID-19 have continued to decline across the state. Additional vaccines may also soon be arriving in northern Nevada through the entry of CVS pharmacies into the federally-run vaccine program.

Karissa Loper, deputy bureau chief at Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, Bureau of Child, Family & Community Wellness, confirmed that CVS locations in Clark County had recently received 3,000 doses of vaccine. The federal vaccine program through pharmacies prioritizes getting shots into the arms of people 65 and older; however, under guidance from the Biden administration, pharmacies may also vaccinate educators and childcare and health care workers.

News two weeks ago that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved storage and transportation of the Pfizer vaccine at standard freezer temperatures instead of ultra-cold conditions may help expedite vaccinations in northern Nevada. The FDA’s emergency use authorization for the vaccine issued in December, and the vaccine’s current label, have required it to be stored at temperatures between -112ºF and -76ºF, meaning it had to be shipped in specially designed containers.

According to English, the health district is looking into recruiting additional vaccine providers in the community to administer vaccines as allotments increase and storage conditions for Pfizer become easier.

Another thing that is expected to help speed vaccination efforts is President Joe Biden’s signing of the American Rescue Plan. Gov. Steve Sisolak praised the signing, saying it “provides a strategy to help fund ongoing vaccination efforts and helps further mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while also providing immediate economic relief to the hardest hit communities across” the state.

The governor also announced today that he would join grocery store workers at an Albertsons in Clark County to receive his first dose of the vaccine. He is eligible both due to his age and his occupation, according to the Nevada COVID-19 Vaccine Playbook.

*Update: This story has been updated to correct Dr. Travis Anderson’s first name.

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.