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Vaccinations for 75 and older could begin next week

Updated January 4, 2021 - 8:40 pm

Vaccinations in Clark County for those 75 and older could begin as soon as next week at area pharmacies.

“The pharmacies will be providing the vaccine to people 75 and older,” Southern Nevada Health District spokeswoman Jennifer Sizemore said in an email Monday afternoon. She said it was her understanding that vaccination of this age group could begin as soon as Jan. 11 but referred a reporter to state officials for details.

A spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services said that some counties in the state may “soon” begin vaccinating those who fall in the second-priority tier group, which includes those 75 and older. However, she provided no specific time frame.

“Nevadans are being vaccinated every day and we are working with partners and stakeholders to implement this monumental task,” spokeswoman Shannon Litz said in an email. “Nevada counties are vaccinating individuals in Tier 1 and some counties may ​be moving into Tier 2 soon.

“As this effort continues, counties may move ​throughout the Tiers at different paces, based on factors such as population size and vaccine demand within the Tier groups.”

Both Litz and Sizemore said Monday night that more information would be released to the public as soon as details are confirmed.

Also on Monday, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said that home health care workers, those in doctor’s offices and people 75 and older eventually would be able to go to Walgreens or CVS to be vaccinated. She provided no date for when this might begin.

Kirkpatrick did not respond to requests for additional details.

“Timing of vaccine availability at retail will be determined by the states in coordination with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” said CVS spokeswoman Monica Prinzing.

Second doses

In accordance with federal guidance, the vaccine rollout in Nevada, as in much of the country, has so far focused on front-line health care workers as well as residents and staff in long-term care facilities. They are part of Nevada’s Tier 1, which also includes first responders.

Nevada initially prioritized those 65 and older as part of Tier 3 but moved those 75 and older up a tier after a panel advising the CDC walked back its earlier recommendation that gave greater priority to essential workers.

University Medical Center, which on Dec. 14 was the first hospital in the state to begin vaccinating its workers, on Monday began to administer the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, spokesman Scott Kerbs confirmed. Both of the two vaccines being distributed in the U.S., by Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses three to four weeks apart to be fully effective.

The U.K. has opted to delay second doses of vaccine there to get first doses to more people as it battles a new, more infectious strain of the virus that also has gotten a foothold in the U.S. and likely in Nevada.

In the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease authority with the federal government, has said he opposes delaying the second dose. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the federal vaccine-delivery program, has suggested two half-doses might be given to spread the vaccine further.

Pfizer, however, has cautioned against using its vaccine in ways beyond how it was studied in clinical trials.

On a press call Monday, Julia Peek, deputy administrator in the state Department of Health and Human Services, said Nevada is not considering delaying second doses but would follow federal guidance on the matter.

But delaying or halving doses won’t break up distribution bottlenecks experienced across the country, as states have strained under the demands of delivering the vaccine to residents.

In Nevada, as of Jan. 3, 34,540 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been reported as administered, Litz said, though there is some lag in reporting.

She did not respond to a question about how many total doses of vaccine the state has received.

The state previously said that it expected to receive 164,000 doses of vaccine by the end of December. However, on Dec. 17, Gov. Steve Sisolak issued a statement that the second week’s allocation of Pfizer vaccine had been reduced by 12,705 doses.

It is unclear whether other allocations were reduced.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Shea Johnson contributed to this report.

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