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Lines return as vaccine eligibility expands to all Nevadans 16 and up

Updated April 5, 2021 - 8:21 pm

Alison French, a member of UNLV’s undefeated women’s volleyball team, said she and her teammates have been “putting our lives in a bubble” since their season began in January.

“We go to the grocery store. We’re going to practice. We don’t really see anybody,” said French, 22, adding that players stay socially distanced from family members at their matches.

To nudge life out of the bubble and back toward normal, she and teammate Kate Brennan, 20, joined the thousands of others across Nevada getting vaccinated against COVID-19 on Monday, the first day eligibility was extended in the state to anyone.

“Hopefully, we can move on from all that COVID has done to us as a community,” Brennan said. “And hopefully it will mean that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest again, like we did before.”

1 million doses

Nevada is one of 36 states now offering doses to those 16 and older, according to The New York Times. President Joe Biden has called on states to offer vaccine to all adults by May 1.

Clark County and the Southern Nevada Health District announced Monday that more than 1 million doses of vaccine had been administered in the county — 1,026,113 first and second doses.

Across Nevada, 1.3 million shots of vaccine have been given, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. Seventeen percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, as is 21 percent of the population that is 16 and older.

Teammates French and Brennan got their first doses of the Moderna vaccine at the UNLV student union, a public vaccination site operated by UNLV Medicine, the medical practice of the university’s School of Medicine. With 2,200 appointments on the books for Monday, the site was scheduled to capacity, said Dr. Michael Gardner, the practice’s president and chief executive officer.

A line of 50 people with appointments formed in front of the student union by midmorning. Once inside, people waited in a second shorter line to register, with the entire process, including a 15-minute observation period, generally taking less than an hour.

Gardner said that opening up vaccinations to the community at large “feels terrific,” though he acknowledged a worry.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is the vaccine hesitancy,” he said. “Are there going to be a lot of people who want the vaccine?

“So, I’m hoping that as more and more people get the vaccine, as people see their friends and neighbors getting the vaccine and not hearing about any bad side effects — or whatever those concerns may be — the more and more people will sign on and get their vaccine.”

Using appointment availability as a barometer of interest, Gardner may have cause for concern.

On Monday afternoon, the UNLV site had appointments available as soon as Wednesday (unlvmedicine.org).

In contrast to earlier this year, appointments also were widely available at many locations listed on the health district’s website (www.snhd.info/covid-vaccine), including the mass sites at Cashman Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center, both of which were closed on Monday.

Short lines at health district

Lines were short at the Southern Nevada Health District offices on Decatur Avenue, where those with appointments were waiting about 15 minutes to get a shot at midmorning.

Isabella D’Angelo, a 17-year-old student at Del Sol High School, waited in line with her mom, Tracey, a first-grade teacher who had already been vaccinated. The younger D’Angelo will return to in-person learning Thursday and wanted to get her first shot before she goes back to school.

“It’s been really hard academically. It’s been really stressful, but I tried to maintain good grades because I’m going to college,” she said.

D’Angelo, who received a first shot of Pfizer vaccine — the only one available authorized for 16- and 17-year-olds — said most of her friends hadn’t known they were now eligible for the vaccine, so she’s been encouraging them to make an appointment when they can.

Myra Muntean, 37, made her appointment last week and showed up well in advance of her time slot, expecting the large new tier’s eligibility to create long lines. But before 9 a.m., lines never grew beyond 25 or 30 people.

“I’ll feel safer knowing that I can travel internationally,” she said. “Last year was difficult not being able to go out of the country and take a vacation. So, knowing that for the countries I’m trying to enter, I’ve got the vaccine and hopefully it’ll make it easier and safer for me and everyone else around me.”

Her first stop? England.

A trickle at Encore

The vaccination clinic at Encore on the Strip was quiet about 8:30 a.m., with just a trickle of people being ushered into the Brahms Ballroom to get their shots.

Arrivals were greeted by a security officer at entry to the ballroom area who asked if they were getting their first or second shot. Depending on their answer they were directed to different lines.

Only about 10 people were seen arriving for their shot during a 30-minute period starting at 8 a.m. The guard, who declined to give his name, said there was a bit of a line when the doors opened at 7 a.m.

University Medical Center, which operates the site, said the news media was not allowed on-site without prior consent forms from those getting shots.

Contact Mary Hynes at mhynes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @MaryHynes1 on Twitter. Contact Jonah Dylan at jdylan@reviewjournal.com. Follow @TheJonahDylan on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Glenn Puit contributed to this report.

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