Increasing COVID-19 cases spur renewed vaccination focus in southern Nevada

Increasing COVID-19 cases spur renewed vaccination focus in southern Nevada
A Reno Fire Department employee administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Reno resident on April 24, 2021. Image: Ty O'Neil / This Is Reno

Governor Sisolak, state and local vaccination teams work to redouble “Get Out the Vaccine” efforts 

LAS VEGAS — Nevada is among the states with the highest daily reported cases of COVID-19 per capita and has seen a 56% increase in the 7-day rolling average of new cases over the past week. Those numbers combined with vaccination rates below the national average—both driven by Clark County—have led state and local officials to redouble efforts in their Get Out the Vaccine (GOTV) efforts in southern Nevada.

As of June 28, Clark County is reporting just under 41% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s more than 10 percentage points below the national average of 52%.

Health officials on Monday also expressed concern about the emergence and increase of the Delta variant of COVID-19. That strain of the virus, first identified in India, is able to replicate faster and is more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.

“Getting vaccinated is the best, most effective way people can protect themselves from COVID-19,” said Dr. Fermin Leguen, district health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that vaccination is effective at preventing most cases of COVID-19 and reducing the severity of illness if a vaccinated person does become infected.

“We know that in the last year and a half, the effects of this deadly virus have not changed, but our tools to fight the virus have – we now have vaccines, which are highly effective at reducing the severity of cases, hospitalization and deaths,” Governor Sisolak said. “By working together to increase access and confidence in the vaccines, we can help bring these case numbers down and ensure our communities are healthy and safe.” 

Clark County isn’t the state’s only area with low vaccination rates. Only Washoe County and Carson City are near the national average for individuals fully vaccinated. Some rural and frontier counties have less than a quarter of residents fully vaccinated against the virus.

Volunteer nurse administers vaccines in Fallon. AP photo.
Peggy Franklin, a volunteer nurse from Reno, administers vaccines at a mobile vaccination clinic held at a tribal health center on the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Reservation and Colony on May 18, 2021 in Fallon, Nev. (AP Photo/Sam Metz)

The state’s coordinated GOTV effort includes a handful of tactics to increase the number of Nevadans fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Increasing access is the first step. Mobile vaccine units and pop-up clinics will be deployed statewide, targeting areas with lower vaccination rates. The state said it’s also working to enroll more health care providers to administer the vaccine.

Vaccination officials say they’ll also be doing more outreach, including sending text reminders to residents to get either their first or second dose of vaccine along with assistance in scheduling to get those doses. Community organizations are also being tapped to help, with grant funding to support outreach campaigns to unvaccinated populations.

State agencies, including the Division of Emergency Management and the Nevada Department of Transportation, are also being tapped to work with pharmacy partners to redistribute COVID vaccines to providers in need.

For community COVID-19 vaccine clinic information and assistance setting up a vaccination appointment visit www.NVCOVIDFighter.org.

Health officials said people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are not fully vaccinated and are close contacts of someone who has COVID-19 should get tested. Community testing locations can be found on the Nevada Health Response website at https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/find-covid-19-testing-in-nevada/

Source: Nevada Governor’s Office