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New COVID-19 boosters available, monkeypox vaccine event nearly full

By Kristen Hackbarth

Washoe County Health District officials this week said the new bivalent COVID-19 booster is available in the community and encouraged locals to get their dose. 

Health District epidemiologist Nancy Diao said the bivalent vaccine, which helps to protect against the omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants, comes at a needed time. 

“BA5 does have a growth advantage of being more contagious than previous variants. Studies have seen the ability of BA5 to evade some previous immunity,” she said. “This is why the bivalent COVID vaccine comes at a needed time as we move into the fall and winter, which normally is when respiratory disease spread becomes more active.” 

Diao said the BA5 omicron variant is still the main strain of the virus circulating in the community.

Washoe County remains in the low range for community risk according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The new COVID-19 booster vaccine will be available Thursday during a vaccination event at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on South Virginia Street. It’s also available at the WCHD clinic on Ninth Street, at Community Health Alliance locations and many local pharmacies. 

A schedule of vaccine events and testing locations are available at https://covid19washoe.com/community-vaccine-schedule/

The CDC has an online tool to help people find out if they’re eligible to receive the new COVID booster. It’s available here.

Spread of monkeypox slows

Diao reported just one new case of monkeypox in the community within the past two weeks, bringing the total number of cases diagnosed to 15. 

She said despite several large special events in recent weeks, there’s been no sign of an increase in either COVID-19 or monkeypox.

“None of our cases right now are directly associated with Burning Man that we are aware of,” Diao said.

She added that cases are declining in several major U.S. cities and in some European countries, pointing to a potential decline in the growth rate of the virus. 

More than 280 people were vaccinated for monkeypox at two separate vaccination events held last week by the health district. Another vaccination event is planned for Sept. 13 at Faces NV

Officials said they’re hoping to do another 250 vaccinations at that event, and right now nearly all of the appointment spots are filled. They encouraged people who are eligible for the monkeypox vaccine to sign up for an appointment as soon as possible at https://vax4nv.nv.gov/patient/s/. Limited walk-in appointments will be available. 

People who are eligible to receive the monkeypox vaccine at the event are:

  • Those who have had direct contact with someone who has monkeypox within the past 14 days, or is a household contact of someone who is known or suspected to have monkeypox.
  • People who have been notified by the WCHD they are eligible..
  • Gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men, and/or transgender, gender non-conforming or gender non-binary who had multiple or anonymous sex partners within the past 14 days. 

People who have had monkeypox or who have symptoms of monkeypox cannot get the vaccine at the event. WCHD officials said they should see a doctor for treatment or testing. 

More information on monkeypox is available at https://www.washoecounty.gov/monkeypox.

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