vaccines | KUNR

vaccines

A closeup of a pharmacist filling a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

Health officials say that a majority of Nevadans would need the COVID-19 vaccine for the population to receive herd immunity. That’s when enough people are immunized to slow the spread of infection. KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck has this explainer.


Bret Frey is a man who is wearing a face mask and sitting in his car. Through the window, a health worker administers the COVID-19 vaccine into his arm.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

There was an air of excitement and a small round of applause as some of the first health care workers with Renown Health received their second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday. This will ultimately provide them about 95% protection from the virus,  which has taken the lives of over 540 Washoe County residents as of Tuesday.

It may seem counterintuitive, but health officials say that even after you get vaccinated against COVID-19, you still need to practice the usual pandemic precautions, at least for a while. That means steering clear of crowds, continuing to wear a good mask in public, maintaining 6 feet or more of distance from people outside your household and frequently washing your hands. We talked to infectious disease specialists to get a better understanding of why.

Why do I have to continue with precautions after I've been vaccinated?

A color coded US map highlighting different rural areas that do not have pharmacies designated to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
Screenshot / RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis

When the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with retail pharmacies such as Costco and Walgreen to help distribute them. But a new analysis of rural counties finds that as many as 750 counties don't have one of those pharmacies.

Kolina Koltai first heard about the coronavirus back in January, but not from newspapers or TV. Instead, she read about it in anti-vaccination groups on Facebook.

"They were posting stories from China like, 'Hey, here's this mysterious illness,' or 'Here's this something that seems to be spreading,'" she said.

Updated 5:48 p.m. ET

A federal advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday to recommend who should get COVID-19 vaccines first once one is authorized for use.

A newly published study out of the University of Idaho suggests that the higher perceived risk of a disease, the more likely someone is to vaccinate.

The poll came from the Colorado Health Foundation but national polls over the past few months paint a similar picture.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it's open to making a COVID-19 vaccine available before phase 3 clinical trials are complete.

Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told the Financial Times last week that he was "prepared to authorize a vaccine before phase 3 clinical trials were complete, as long as officials believed the benefits outweighed the risks."

Typically, phase 1 trials involve a small number of volunteers.

A vaccine against the virus behind COVID-19 offers the only certain return to normalcy. Even so, misinformation and conspiracy theories abound – and a vaccine hasn’t even been developed yet. It’s an issue people have been trying to combat for other vaccines that do exist. Colorado researchers are taking an interesting approach to bridge the gap.

This post was updated June 29, 2020 to include comments from Alexis Kalergis. 

A Colorado team says their work on a COVID-19 vaccine is progressing. Other vaccines are much further down the testing pipeline, but none have crossed the finish line yet. 

At a hearing last weekend about a Colorado bill on vaccination, Dr. Reginald Washington had originally planned to make several urgent points in support of the bill. 

First, that diseases like measles are resurging, and they’re serious. (He’d know. He’s treated patients with complications from measles and pertussis.) Second, due to COVID-19, children are missing well-child visits and skipping vaccinations, putting them at risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

This post was updated May 1 with additional information

It's World Immunization Week, but there's evidence that vaccinations are down as checkups get postponed or skipped due to worries about getting exposed to the new coronavirus.

HPV-related cancers are rising among American men. That's according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports Immunize Nevada is working to boost the number of boys getting vaccinations.

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The Centers for Disease Control is giving Nevada nearly $940,000 to increase adult immunizations across the state.

The money will go to the state's Division of Public Health, which plans to launch a two-year program that will include collaborating with pharmacies, community health centers and local doctors.

Money will also go toward the nonprofit Immunize Nevada to increase educational outreach. Spokeswoman Lynette Bellin says a lot of adults simply don't know that they need to maintain their vaccines after childhood.

Immunize Nevada

When we hear about HPV, the conversation often focuses on young women and the risk of cervical cancer. In reality, HPV is a much larger health crisis for women and men linked to many other diseases that we struggle to talk openly about, like vaginal and penile cancers.

But two women in Reno are ready to talk and their goal is prevention, since there is a vaccine for HPV deemed safe by the CDC.

The guests joining Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss for this special discussion include Heidi Parker from Immunize Nevada and Abbi Whitaker, an HPV-related cancer survivor in Reno.