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More than 75% of higher ed employees vaccinated

By Kristen Hackbarth
Supplies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Image: Ty O'Neil / This Is Reno.

The vaccination rate among employees of Nevada’s System of Higher Education–which employs nearly 24,000 across the state–has risen nearly 35% over the past week. NSHE officials said 75% of employees are now vaccinated for COVID-19. 

At University of Nevada, Reno more than 79% of its 7,550 employees are fully vaccinated. More than 87% of Desert Research Institute’s 373 employees are vaccinated, as are nearly 76% of Truckee Meadows Community College’s 1,211 employees.

NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose said she believes vaccination among NSHE’s 5,800 remaining unvaccinated employees will continue to increase in the coming weeks. 

“The science and data have consistently shown that receiving the COVID-19 vaccines continues to be the surest, safest, and most effective way to end the pandemic, and to keep Nevada learning,” she said.

NSHE attributed the surge in individuals getting the vaccine to its decision to report employee vaccination rates last week. Officials also said its central office and institutions updated the WebIZ database–the state’s immunization tracking system–and cleared up discrepancies in total employee count. 

The recent decision by the State Board of Health to require all NSHE students to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 didn’t hurt either, they said. 

UNR professor Kent Ervin, also with the Nevada Faculty Alliance, suggested publishing student vaccination rates as well. 

Chancellor Rose has yet to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. The Board of Regents unanimously authorized development of a COVID-19 vaccine policy on Sept. 10, and Rose will present a proposed policy to them on Sept. 30. 

While vaccination has yet to be required for NSHE employees, testing requirements have likely encouraged more people to get the shot. UNR President Brian Sandoval on Aug. 3 said employees would need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit weekly coronavirus test results at their own expense. Testing in Washoe County requires a two- to three-day wait as of Wednesday. 

Sandoval today reported his own positive COVID test.

“My symptoms have been very mild and I am confident I will make a quick recovery,” he said. “For the next 10 days, I will be isolating and working from home. It is important to note that I tested negative for the virus on Thursday, so the onset of COVID-19 can happen fast when you least expect it.”

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