Updated January 20, 2021 - 8:02 pm
COVID-19 vaccination clinics moved into more Las Vegas Valley neighborhoods this week as pharmacy chains began to offer shots to older residents.
Both Smith’s and Walgreens are now offering vaccinations to those 70 and older in Clark County, according to nonprofit Immunize Nevada’s nvcovidfighter.org website.
Meanwhile, Clark County officials said they would be tightening procedures at Nevada’s largest vaccination site, Cashman Center in downtown Las Vegas. This step follows a Review-Journal report that, contrary to policy, staff there often have not been requiring appointments and identification to confirm eligibility.
Both developments come at a time when older residents, who are at the highest risk of complications from the coronavirus, are venting considerable frustration over the limited number of appointments available to get the potentially life-saving vaccine.
Tom and Linda Moore, both 78, got their shots Wednesday afternoon after their daughter was able to book appointments online for them at a Henderson Smith’s.
Tom Moore said the couple, who had only a few people ahead of them in line, waited about 15 minutes to get their shots.
“It went one, two, three,” he said.
But as with other vaccination sites, appointments are going quickly. The couple’s daughter, Tiffany Vaskov, said pharmacy staff told her that appointments already were booked for the next two weeks.
“We’re encouraging people to check the sites frequently and also try nonpeak hours,” said Heidi Parker, Immunize Nevada’s executive director.
The limited number of vaccine appointments available to older residents is “completely driven by the low allocation that we get as a state,” Candice McDaniel, a bureau chief in the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, said during a press briefing by state officials Wednesday.
As of Tuesday, 116,041 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Nevada, McDaniel said.
As of Wednesday, 212,200 doses had been delivered to the state, department spokeswoman Shannon Litz said in an email.
The federal government has allocated 36,825 first doses to Nevada for next week, McDaniel said.
In Clark County, the vaccine is being offered not only to the older population but also to people in a wide group of occupations that includes not only health care and public safety personnel but, as of this week, teachers, elected officials and essential public transportation workers such as ride-share and taxi drivers, among others.
The county has received 83,200 vaccine doses and administered 60,632, according to information from the Southern Nevada Health District.
Improvements at Cashman
County officials said during a separate press briefing that they were tightening procedures at the Cashman site.
“We think that the people coming through there without appointments, and without the proper proof that they were in the right category or right tier … will be extremely minimal if not totally nonexistent,” said county Fire Chief John Steinbeck. “We apologize to anybody that was inconvenienced by that and hope to get them in as soon as possible.”
County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said that the Cashman Center would be closing as planned for the weekend to “refine our process,” to provide training and to get “our new system up and running.”
County spokeswoman Stacey Welling said in an email, “We are working on the process for checking in people so they are better prepared to show ID to verify their employment and/or age. We also are working on IT improvements at the site so it’s easier to verify appointments electronically.”
The new system will provide people with an email or text with a code that can be scanned on site, replacing a manual process.
To make an appointment at a Smith’s, visit smithsfoodanddrug.com/rx/guest/get-vaccinated.
To make an appointment at a Walgreens, visit walgreens.com/findcare/vaccination/covid-19.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, visit: nvcovidfighter.org.