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Clinic for 2nd vaccine doses opens at Las Vegas Convention Center

Updated February 2, 2021 - 9:41 am

After receiving her first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 19, Fran Abbott soon began to worry about the logistics of getting her second.

The Southern Nevada Health District recently said that it would email those who got a first dose at one of its sites about scheduling a second dose. But Abbott said that when she received her first dose as a walk-in at Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas, she wasn’t asked to provide an email address. How, then, could the district contact her? And what if a phone message to the district was not returned in time?

“I am worried that I and those who went to Cashman as walk-ins might fall through the cracks,” Abbott, 74, said in an email Sunday, echoing the uncertainty of many older residents about the process for receiving their second doses.

Her concerns were eased Monday morning when a friend shared a health district link that allowed both her and her husband to book Feb. 16 appointments at a vaccination site that opened Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The by-appointment site will administer second doses only to those who received their first doses at Cashman Center, Western High School or the health district’s headquarters on Decatur Boulevard.

Related: Nursing, medical students play key role in COVID vaccination drive

The district had been emailing the link to those who were soon due for their second doses and asking them not to share it, said health district representative Jennifer Sizemore.

“We can’t stop them, but we can ask them not to share the link,” she said in the afternoon.

However, by Monday night, the district had updated its website to allow anyone who had already received their first shots to schedule their second doses. To schedule, people are asked a series of questions to help ensure eligibility.

“Unfortunately, providers need to make sure that people cannot game the system, such as getting a first dose before it is their turn,” said Julie Swann, department head of industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina State University. One way is through a web link that expires after one use, said Swann.

“The best way to ensure that people receive an appropriate second dose is to make an appointment after they have received the first dose, to return in 3-4 weeks,” said Swann, an analytics and systems expert who advised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the swine flu pandemic response.

Swann said, “Providers also need to make sure that the rules and guidelines are very clear to patients.”

Sizemore said the district is updating its system to allow people the option of making a second appointment when they are getting their first dose.

Turning people away

Those who are not eligible to get their second doses will be turned away, said Sarah Lugo, senior community health nurse for immunization outreach with the health district.

“We have to make sure that we maintain that to ensure that whoever got their first dose, there’s a second dose waiting for them,” Lugo said.

At the convention center, people will be asked to show an immunization card given to them at their first appointment. If necessary, staff at the site can also verify a first dose given through WebIz, the state’s system for recording vaccinations.

Site staff will be verifying that the proper interval has passed before people receive a second dose.

Moderna advises that the second dose of its vaccine be given four weeks after the first dose. For the Pfizer vaccine, the recommended interval is three weeks. However, the CDC has said that an interval of six weeks for either vaccine is acceptable.

The vaccines are not interchangeable.

At the convention center, there will be a separate line for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, with recipients receiving color-coded wrist bands.

The convention center will handle about 1,400 appointments per day this week, district representatives said, and can ramp up to do as many as 3,500 in a day.

Priority will be given to those with appointments, but there might be extra doses available if there are no-shows for appointments, Lugo said. These would go to those who are eligible to receive a second dose at the site, she said — people who, as Abbott feared, might have fallen through the cracks.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter.

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