More than 75% of higher ed employees vaccinated

More than 75% of higher ed employees vaccinated
A mock-up of the COVID vaccine. Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

LAS VEGAS–The vaccination rate among employees of Nevada’s System of Higher Education–which employs nearly 24,000 across the state–has risen nearly 35% over the past week. NSHE officials said 75% of employees are now vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Vaccination is highest at the science-focused Desert Research Institute headquartered in Reno, where more than 87% of its 373 employees are vaccinated. Western Nevada College in Carson City and Great Basin College in Elko have the lowest vaccination rates at 65.2% and 66.1% respectively.

NSHE Chancellor Melody Rose said she believes vaccination rate among NSHE’s 5,800 remaining unvaccinated employees will continue to rise in the coming weeks. 

“The science and data have consistently shown that receiving the COVID-19 vaccines continues to be the surest, safest, and most effective way to end the pandemic, and to keep Nevada learning,” she said.

NSHE attributed the surge in individuals getting the vaccine to its decision to report employee vaccination rates last week. Officials also said its central office and institutions updated the WebIZ database–the state’s immunization tracking system–and cleared up discrepancies in total employee count. 

The recent decision by the State Board of Health to require all NSHE students to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 didn’t hurt either, they said. 

UNR professor Kent Ervin suggested publishing student vaccination rates as well. 

Chancellor Rose has yet to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees. The Board of Regents unanimously authorized development of a COVID-19 vaccine policy on Sept. 10, and Rose will present a proposed policy to them on Sept. 30. 

While vaccination has yet to be required for NSHE employees, testing requirements have likely encouraged more people to get the shot. UNR President Brian Sandoval on Aug. 3 said employees would need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit weekly coronavirus test results at their own expense. Testing in Washoe County requires a two- to three-day wait as of Wednesday. 

The COVID-19 vaccination rates for NSHE employees will be updated weekly on NSHE’s website here.