COVID vaccine would go to health care workers first


The global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine for kids is only just beginning, a lagging start that has some U.S. pediatricians worried they may not know if any shots work for young children in time for the next school year. (Oct. 21)

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The governor also urged tourists to ‘follow our rules’

Gov. Steve Sisolak says frontline health care workers can expect to receive the first doses of a long-awaited coronavirus vaccine as soon as it arrives.

Sisolak unveiled the state’s plan to roll out the vaccine at a Monday press conference in Carson City, telling reporters the state will rely on its existing vaccine inventory system to get the doses out. 

“I want to be very clear, there are still many unknowns before a vaccine is ready for distribution,” the first-term Democrat said from a conference room at the state Legislature. “But I want you to know we will be prepared when the time comes.

“There is no approved vaccine at this time,” Sisolak added. “There’s a lot of speculation, but no definitive timeline for when one may be approved. … We’re fortunate to have an existing framework managed by a team of experts who work on this on a day-to-day basis.”

More on this: A look at Sisolak’s coronavirus vaccine priority plan

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak speaks during a press conference in the Nevada State Legislature Building in Carson City on June 24, 2020. (Photo: JASON BEAN/RGJ)

Officials said the so-called “Nevada Playbook” should be considered a “living document” that will be added to and adjusted in response to the vaccine’s availability.

A copy of the plan released shortly after Monday’s press conference shows the vaccine rollout will be quarterbacked by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, which plans to coordinate with many of the same doctors, pharmacies and other immunization providers the agency has worked with during past pandemics.

Officials expect to direct the state’s initially limited supply of injections toward “critical populations” of health care workers and other virus-vulnerable populations, including those with underlying medical conditions and people over the age of 65.

COVID-19 vaccine in Nevada: When will it be available? Will it be safe, effective?

They soon hope to recruit and enroll enough providers to offer the vaccine at hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes, mobile health clinics and a whole host of other locations outlined in the 102-page plan.

Sisolak on rising COVID-19 cases

Governor Sisolak speaks during a press conference in the Nevada State Capital Building in Carson City with regards to the COVID-19 crisis on April 21, 2020. (Photo: JASON BEAN/RGJ)

Sisolak last week urged Nevadans to push past “COVID fatigue,” and to keep wearing their masks, in order to keep the state’s economy running.

Earlier this month, he loosened a statewide cap on large gatherings, but warned the state could pull back in the face of an “alarming trend” of new cases and hospitalizations that could put hospitals under strain during flu season. 

Sisolak returned to that theme on Monday, when he announced plans to allow even larger gatherings at convention centers, but not before sharply rebuking businesses, visitors and residents who have run afoul of existing COVID-containment guidelines.

“It’s unfortunate we have a small number of individuals who don’t care,” he said. “If you’re coming to Nevada as a guest, follow our protocols. … We love having you here, but when you’re here, follow our rules.”

Sisolak also said he was working with public education leaders to “get Nevada’s students back in classrooms as soon as possible.”

The week in COVID-19: Cases more than double in young kids in Washoe County

Will a COVID vaccine be safe and effective?

A shot is prepared as part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc. in Binghamton N.Y. (Photo: Hans Pennink)

Both he and state health officials later sought to reassure those worried about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

“If the vaccine is not deemed safe and effective by the FDA, it will not be released for use,” said Candice McDaniel, health bureau chief at Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health. “We know vaccine hesitancy is in the news a lot and people have concerns, but we can be confident that a vaccine will not be released if it has not been deemed safe and effective by the FDA and the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices.”

Nevada on Oct. 16 announced it had joined states around the country in submitting a vaccination game plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC expects to complete its review of state vaccination blueprints by Nov. 1.

Experts say approval for a COVID-19 vaccine is still weeks or months away, but could be ready as soon as December. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said it aims for the first doses to be available by January 2021. 

Roundtable: USA TODAY’s experts discuss COVID-19 vaccine timetable, distribution

On Sunday, Washoe County reported a record number of known active cases of the coronavirus with 1,872. Nevada’s COVID-19 Task Force has called county officials into an emergency meeting Thursday meeting to discuss the uptick. 

COVID-19: Washoe County hits new all-time high for active cases Sunday

To date, 12,482 Washoe residents have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and 193 people have died of the disease.

You can read a full copy of the vaccine distribution plan below:

James DeHaven is the politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal. He covers campaigns, the Nevada Legislature and everything in between. Support his work by subscribing to right here. 

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