By SAM METZ AP/Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada will receive 164,150 initial doses of coronavirus vaccines this month, state officials announced on Friday.
The Department of Defense and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control notified state health officials that 91,650 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 72,500 of the Moderna vaccine had been allocated for the state.
The initial doses are enough to cover the majority of individuals designated as “Tier One” in the state’s vaccine distribution playbook. The state plans to prioritize 173,451 individuals as part of its first distribution tier, including hospital staff, nursing home residents and staff, paramedics, laboratory technicians and prison workers.
The initial allocation will leave about 9,000 individuals designated as part of Tier One without vaccines during the first round of distribution. Nevada Health Bureau Chief Candice McDaniel said the state planned to prioritize the hospital workers and long-term care facility residents and staff within the first tier. The state will partner with counties to distribute the vaccine and offer them some discretion on dispensation.
Once 80% of Tier One individuals receive the vaccine, the state will move on to distributing vaccines to 270,560 individuals designated as Tier Two, including educators, inmates and “essential retail workers.” McDaniel said the state had not decided exactly who would be included among “essential retail workers” and whether the category would include hospitality industry or casino industry workers.
In Nevada, where the economy relies heavily on tourism, the decision about who to include in the categories could have a large effect on the state’s path to economic recovery but also spark questions about equitable and science-based distribution.
McDaniel said the “titles” of the category were rooted in previous efforts to immunize Nevada residents for the flu. Whether categories like “essential retail workers” include casino workers, she said, would depend on further research on how different groups are exposed to the virus.
“At this time, that’s still one of those aspects where we have to look at the science behind the level of exposure and the length of exposure. We’re working through that issue right now,” McDaniel said.
Nevada officials reported 2,902 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, increasing the statewide total to 162,434 cases since the start of the pandemic. Officials reported 23 additional deaths, bringing the statewide total to 2,272.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms for up to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems can face severe illness and death. However, the vast majority of people recover.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.