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Nevada Revises Vaccination Plan To Hasten Slow Pace

A closeup of a pharmacist filling a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
A pharmacist with Renown Health prepares a syringe with a second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to administer to a health care worker at Renown's South Meadows drive-through vaccine site in Reno, Nev, on Friday, Jan. 8.

Governor Steve Sisolak held a press conference Monday to update Nevadans on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.Sisolak first denounced the violence at the nation’s Capitol last week. He then pivoted to another urgent matter at hand — the pandemic. He said budget constraints and the lack of federal leadership has slowed the pace of vaccinations.

“It has resulted in the slow rollout of vaccines without a unified nationwide strategy,” Sisolak said.

Sisolak previously provided a rosier assessment, calling the initial rollout “successful,” but he now says it’ll take more time.

“Well, I guess I'm never satisfied with how quickly we get the vaccines into arms,” Sisolak said.

Nevada has more than 170,000 doses of the vaccine. More than 61,000 have been administered. But, that leaves more than 100,000 unused shots.

“We’re at a place right now where we need to scale up our response,” said Candice McDaniel with the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health.

The governor has formed a task force to get more people immunized sooner. Goals include setting up vaccination centers and improving a backlog that tracks who’s received a shot.

McDaniel said the revised distribution plan will vaccinate high-risk people in more than one group simultaneously.

“We have moved to a model where our essential frontline workers and specific high-risk populations will move in two parallel lines,” McDaniel said.

Vulnerable Nevadans will be grouped into what’s now called “lanes.” The next lane will be for those 70 and older. But there’s no set date for their shots yet.

While Nevada has administered about a third of the vaccines received so far, the Washoe County Health District has administered over 90% of their shots as of Sunday.

And since the worst of the post-holiday surge is still expected, Sisolak is extending statewide restrictions for 30 more days. This means most businesses must continue operating at 25% capacity.

Nevada’s updated COVID-19 vaccine playbook can be found here.

Credit Nevada Health Response
Nevada is moving from a tiered approach to two vaccination “lanes.” The lanes are prioritized from top to bottom. Those at the top will receive their COVID-19 vaccine first.

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

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member with Report for America focusing on community reporting and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local community issues are her passion, including the affordable housing crisis, homelessness, a lack of access to healthcare, protests and challenges facing vulnerable communities in northern Nevada.
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