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State: Vaccine groups not changing, despite unused appointments

Updated March 11, 2021 - 8:05 am

Nevada health officials on Wednesday would not say whether they are considering Clark County’s plea to lower the vaccine eligibility age to 55.

Instead, they urged the public to ensure that people in the 65-to-69 age group know they are eligible for immunization and how to schedule an appointment.

“We need your help in getting the word out to Nevadans who are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination,” state COVID-19 response director Caleb Cage said. “Please help a friend and neighbor or parents or a loved one get connected to vaccine in their area.”

Thousands of Clark County vaccine appointments are going unfilled, Southern Nevada Health District chief health officer Dr. Fermin Leguen said this week.

[ Nevada’s pandemic year and toll in graphics ]

On Wednesday, the health district published a reminder that the list of essential workers eligible for vaccination has been expanded to include transportation, grocery store and retail workers. Essential worker groups include anyone 16 or older.

The health district has requested that state officials lower the minimum vaccine eligibility age for the general public from 65 to 55. That would add about 270,000 county residents, according to Census Bureau estimates from 2019.

Nevada’s vaccination playbook does not have a predefined eligibility group for people in the 55-to-64 age group. Instead, the next group from the general public would be Nevadans ages 16 to 64 with underlying conditions, disabilities or who are homeless.

Cage said Wednesday that the state has been in touch with Clark County officials but does not yet have enough information to take action.

“The biggest challenge has been and will remain, I think, managing all of the complexities within a very complex process,” he said.

Cage suggested that the state was exploring ways it could help counties spread the word about vaccine eligibility and keep vaccination sites open longer.

“We look forward to providing you all an update on concrete solutions that are agreed upon,” he said.

Leguen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Nevada’s vaccination playbook calls for 70 percent to 80 percent of an eligibility group to be vaccinated, Cage said. About 63 percent of people 65 and older are immunized.

Officials urged the public to visit NVcovidfighter.org to find information about vaccine eligibility and to register for an appointment. Appointments can also be made by calling 800-401-0946 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. any day of the week.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter. Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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