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Big Las Vegas vaccine clinics bustle, but many more doses available

In stark contrast to earlier this year, Clark County has plenty of COVID-19 vaccine this week, as well as staff to administer it and space in which to do so. Local public health officials now face a different challenge.

“Now we need people to come and get vaccinated,” JoAnn Rupiper, chief administrative nurse for the Southern Nevada Health District, said on Tuesday.

The health district, county government and partnering agencies have ramped up to vaccinate thousands of residents who are newly eligible for doses. Monday marked the first day that anyone 16 or older could get a shot in Nevada.

Between 4,500 and 5,000 appointments were booked for Tuesday at the mass vaccination site at Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas, lower than its newly expanded capacity of 7,000 or more, Rupiper said during a midmorning question-and-answer session with reporters.

By the end of the day, the site had administered 6,000 doses, including between 800 and 900 to walk-ins, health district spokeswoman Stephanie Bethel said in an email.

“We expected this week to be busy,” said Travis Haldeman, a Clark County Fire Department engineer who manages the site. “We’ve been preparing for weeks now for this moment that we’re in today.”

Appointments for this week at the site, which was closed on Monday, could not be booked until Saturday. The number of appointments for Tuesday doubled over the course of the day on Monday, said Haldeman, who expects demand to grow as the week progresses. As of Tuesday morning, roughly 4,700 appointments had been scheduled for Wednesday at Cashman.

Haldeman urged people to make appointments rather than to come to the site as walk-ins, but also said walk-ins wouldn’t be turned away if extra doses are available.

Lines in the morning moved quickly at Cashman, at a mass public site at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and at a public site at the UNLV student union, with minimal waiting times at each. The UNLV vaccination site is operating near its capacity of about 2,000, said Dr. Michael Gardner, president and CEO of UNLV Medicine, the medical practice of the university’s School of Medicine.

If demand increases, Cashman will be ready, Haldeman said. The most doses the site has administered in one day is 6,300.

“A personal goal we have here at Cashman is to vaccinate 10,000 people under this roof. We’d really like to blow Dodger Stadium out of the water one of these days,” he said, referring to the mass vaccination site in Los Angeles.

“I know we have the personnel here to do it. You’re not going to find anybody more motivated to vaccinate and do good for Southern Nevada than you will here at this site.”

Information on vaccination sites can be found at NVCovidFighter.org. For assistance making an appointment, call 800-401-0946.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

Review-Journal staff writer Jonah Dylan contributed to the report.

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