The woman identified herself in a recent voicemail as calling on behalf of Clark County Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick’s office, and she made a simple inquiry.
“We were just calling to see if you were interested in getting the COVID-19 vaccine, not interested or if you’ve already received your first or second dose,” the woman said.
She then provided Kirkpatrick’s personal cellphone number to call back.
While such messages in the era of phone scams and unsolicited calls are likely to raise suspicions, this one was legitimate.
For more than three months, Kirkpatrick and a few paid senior volunteers have engaged in a campaign to directly reach constituents to see whether they need any resources or help getting immunized, the commissioner said on Monday.
Kirkpatrick estimated at least 40,000 people have been contacted, including individuals who have reached out to her office or belong to senior centers and — like a recent recipient — members of the public whose information her office has accessed through public voter registration data.
“We do it the old-fashioned way,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s a hard time for a lot of people.”
Immunization pace falls behind
The outreach effort continues now declining demand for the vaccine, particularly among young people.
About 50 percent of eligible county residents 16 and older have received at least a first vaccine dose as of Monday, raising doubts over whether the county will reach a 60 percent benchmark by June 1 that it set as a target to fully reopen.
Kirkpatrick said late Monday that it was “too soon” to determine whether the county might fully reopen even if that goal is not reached. Instead she said only that officials will reevaluate the vaccination rate as well as other public health metrics, such as cases and hospitalizations, toward the end of this month.
By then, the county’s recent upgrade to 80 percent occupancy will have been in place for at least three weeks, offering officials a good glimpse into how that move to ease restrictions has played out, she said.
Kirkpatrick said she would be “doing a disservice” if she discouraged people from getting immunized by giving an impression that the vaccination rate will not inform whether occupancy and social distancing restrictions are lifted.
“We’re so close that we have to be smart about this,” she said.
Most respond positively
As she proceeds with direct phone outreach, paying the few volunteers through her campaign fund under the category of community engagement, Kirkpatrick perhaps is alone in such an effort.
Spokespersons for the county and city of Las Vegas said they were unaware of other elected officials engaged in a similar campaign, although many spread the word via social media and newsletters and continue to be involved in supporting vaccination efforts within their districts.
Kirkpatrick said her district had a relatively high number of coronavirus cases early on, and she found that many people needed resources, had questions or could not use a computer. It is why she said she opted for “a little more personalized touch” beyond standard public announcements.
Most constituents have responded positively to the outreach, which features a live person and is not a robocall, she said. But some have indicated they did not want a vaccine nor to be contacted.
At least one person who has been called does not live in Kirkpatrick’s district.