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Health District: It’s ‘go time’ to be fully vaccinated by Christmas

By Kristen Hackbarth

Washoe County Health District (WCHD) officials today said those who get their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 18 and follow through with a second dose can be fully immunized by Christmas. With the addition of children ages 5-11 among those who can receive the Pfizer vaccine, there’s the potential for many families to be fully vaccinated for coronavirus.

“Now is go time for getting your vaccines so everyone can be vaccinated around your Christmas table,” said WCHD Officer Kevin Dick. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use in children ages 5-11 and distribution of the vaccine began late last week. National Public Radio reported that officials expect to have about 900,000 children in that age group vaccinated by the end of day Wednesday. 

The health district’s Jim English estimated about 700 to 1,000 children aged 5-11 had received their first dose of the COVID vaccine in Washoe County. A lag in reporting and the use of paper registration–required while waiting for the state to update its scheduling site–has made it hard for officials to get an exact count. 

“I think you’ll see that number jump over the next several weeks,” English said. “We had a lot of excited kids. We had a lot of relieved parents. We did have people lined up on Wells Avenue well before 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning.” 

The vaccination site at Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center opens at 9 a.m.

WCHD is only offering 100 doses per day of the vaccine to children–about one third of its total vaccines administered per day. They’re offered on a first-come, first-served basis until online scheduling becomes available for that age group, potentially by Nov. 16, English said. 

The health district’s vaccine event schedule is available at https://covid19washoe.com/community-vaccine-schedule/

Cases climbing again, vaccine misinformation persists

Dick said that the decline in cases seen in September and early October has reversed course. Over the past month the 7-day moving average of new cases has increased from 103 to 140, a 40% jump. 

The COVID Risk Meter also remains very high, primarily because hospital capacity continues to be strained with 92% of beds occupied. 

“Not only do we have high demand in our hospitals,” Dick said, “we … have a significant burden of COVID cases occurring in our hospitals as well.” 

The county reported 15 COVID deaths so far this month–12 in the past week. 

“Sadly, these deaths…the vast majority [were] unvaccinated individuals, people that could’ve been vaccinated but did not,” Dick said.

He said resistance to the vaccine and misinformation continues to be a challenge. 

“Contrary to much of the info that’s being spread out there, we don’t have any deaths attributed to the COVID-19 vaccine in Washoe County… The decision not to get vaccinated when the vaccine is available can kill you. Spreading misinformation is harming people and endangering their lives,” he said. 

COVID-19 testing continues to be widely available. For locations visit https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/find-covid-19-testing-in-nevada/. Find appointments for vaccination at https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

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