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Washoe County opens vaccine eligibility to kids 12 and up

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The Washoe County Health District today reported that 55% of Washoe County residents have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine—and officials are hoping to boost that figure with an increasing number of vaccination events at places throughout the community.

The first is tonight at Greater Nevada Field.

Baseball fans can watch the Reno Aces face off against the Las Vegas Aviators for the season opener this afternoon at 6:35 p.m., and they can get a vaccine while they’re at it. Fans in attendance at the game will have an opportunity to get either the Pfizer or Janssen vaccine.

This opportunity comes on the heels of news that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people 12 years of age and older. Minors will need a guardian with them regardless of where they go to receive the vaccine.

WCHD’s James English says the health district already has some people as young as 12 scheduled to be vaccinated at its point of distribution (POD) near the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center.

The health district’s POD is open with or without an appointment. Officials say those with appointments will get through the process more quickly. 

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Washoe County’s vaccination POD at the Livestock Events Center is moving to the west side of the property to make way for the Reno Rodeo.
Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

Today and tomorrow, the people staffing the POD will be facing the harsh sun on one of the first hot days of the year as operations are moved to the west side of the events center property to make way for the upcoming Reno Rodeo. They’ll be doing their part to get shots in arms without any shade to keep them cool tomorrow, too, before shutting the POD down on Saturday, Sunday and Monday to finish the move.

The Reno Rodeo doesn’t kick off for more than a month and is not expected to cause any complications for people seeking vaccines at the POD during its run.

Health District Officer Kevin Dick said now that some children are eligible for vaccination he wants to remind parents of the pressure that’s been placed on the school district to keep schools open and increase the capacity of students who can attend them.

Some parents, often during school board meetings, have also pressured the school district to lift mask mandates for children—which is not something that’s in school officials’ power. The mask mandate was issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced that those who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks outdoors or indoors under many circumstances.

Dick stressed that vaccinations are a key tool in getting kids unmasked and back in classrooms. He also said that while it is true severe cases of COVID-19 are rare in children, they do happen. 

In Washoe County, seven children who’ve contracted the virus have ended up with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C—a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. All seven had to be hospitalized.

English said the health district’s vaccine POD has seen a dramatic slowdown in daily number of people seeking to get the COVID-19 jab in recent weeks but that those numbers are starting to turn around now that people need not make an appointment.

Opening vaccine availability to people between the ages of 12 and 15 will add an additional 25,000 to the county’s number of eligible people.

“I’m really proud of our community and how they’re doing with getting vaccinated. There were an additional 2,200 doses administered yesterday,” Dick said, adding that Washoe County has vaccinated more people in a per capita comparison than other jurisdictions, Clark County included.

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.

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