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Public Health

One Solo Box: The First COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives In Washoe

An older man in a mask pushes a dolly with a white box on it. In the background is the back of a white Fedex truck.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
The first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrives in Washoe County, at the Washoe County Health District, in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

The much anticipated first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Washoe County Tuesday morning. KUNR's Lucia Starbuck was there when the truck rolled into town.

A FedEx truck pulled into the Washoe County Health District’s parking lot first thing in the morning, greeted by a sidewalk crowded with the press.

It wasn’t a grand entrance of any sort. The 3,900 doses fit neatly into one box with an eye-catching bright pink label that read, “Priority Boarding.” This box was carefully placed on a dolly and rolled into the health district — nine months into the pandemic.

James English is with the health district. He said the arrival of the vaccine provided some relief. 

“There’s been a lot of anxiety because there’s a lot of what-ifs, you don't know when it’s coming, we did not know when it [was] coming,” English said.

The virus has already taken the lives of 2,596 Nevadans. More than 370 from Washoe County. English said the vaccine isn’t a quick fix.

“I would say that it’s the beginning of the solution to the immediate pandemic,” English said.

Health care workers at four local acute-care hospitals will be vaccinated first. Those hospitals are Renown Regional Medical Center, Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Northern Nevada Regional Medical Center and Incline Village Community Hospital.

Additional shipments are expected in Washoe throughout December and vaccinations will be administered in a tiered approach. English said he anticipates vaccines for the general public by late-March.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

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