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County proceeds with Janssen vaccine, more than half the community vaccinated

By Bob Conrad

Washoe County health officials today said that the B.1.1.7 strain, which is more deadly and more contagious than the prior strains in the region, is quickly becoming the most dominant COVID-19 strain being found in Washoe County.

“Right now we’re seeing a growing trend of variants around us. The B.1.1.7 variant, which is 50% more transmissible, is quickly taking over as the dominant strain here,” said Nancy Diao, division epidemiologist with the Washoe County Health District. “More than 30% of our sequence cases is the B.1.1.7 [variant]. We’re also seeing a growing number of the B.1.4.7 and B.1.4.9 variant that came from California.”

The mutations, she said, are to be expected, which is why officials continue to stress mask-wearing in addition to signing up to get the vaccine.

“So now more than ever, in order to stop the growth of variant clusters and avoid the introduction of any new variants, we really need to stop transmissions quickly…” Diao added.

County proceeds with Janssen vaccine

The safety of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine was given the all-clear last week by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The announcement came after six people, including one Nevadan, developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

Health officials say more than 50% of those 16 and older in Washoe County have had their COVID-19 vaccination initiated. Image: Ty O’Neil / This Is Reno

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the benefits are outweighed by the risks offered by the Janssen vaccine.

“Reports of adverse events following the use of J & J/Janssen vaccine suggest an increased risk of a rare adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS),” the agency posted on its website. “Nearly all reports of this serious condition, which involves blood clots with low platelets, have been in adult women younger than 50 years old.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, after the FDA’s announcement, said Nevada would again start using the vaccine after a western states workgroup also reviewed the Janssen vaccine and said its use should continue.

“As one of many Nevadans who gladly took this vaccine when it was offered to me, I look forward to resuming the use of the vaccine in our State, along with the Moderna and Pfizer products,” he said. “Every shot in an arm puts Nevada one step closer to recovery.”

Washoe County officials today said it would start using Janssen again.

“We’re hoping to switch back to the Janssen [vaccine]. We found that very advantageous to us as we could do many more vaccinations a day and also per week, and we didn’t have to worry about scheduling second doses. That’s a big plus of that vaccine,” said the health district’s Jim English.

English said the county has vaccines available for people who want to sign up to get them.

Those wanting to get the vaccine can visit NVCOVIDFighter.org or call 1-800-401-0946.

County reaches vaccination milestone

Health officials said Washoe County reached a major milestone with more than 300,000 total doses administered. More than 30% of Washoe County’s citizens have been fully vaccinated.

“We’re at more than 300,000 doses administered, which is a huge number, and over 50% of those 16-plus have had their vaccine initiated in Washoe County,” said health district public information officer Scott Oxarart. “And then, in terms of those who are fully vaccinated in Washoe, 16 and older, that number is over 31%.”

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